Anatomy of an Administrator: Provost Anne Skleder on New Role, Adjusting the Sails

Anatomy of an Administrator: Provost Anne Skleder on New Role, Adjusting the Sails

Justin Topa, Assistant News Editor

Dr. Anne Skleder has been appointed as senior vice president and provost of Wilkes University and loves to cook, travel and sail when her schedule permits.

The senior vice president is responsible for overseeing assessments of curriculum and for making overall decisions within each of the five schools on campus. Skleder’s new position also leaves her largely responsible for strategic planning, building new programs, assessing and working with faculty and committing to the success of students. Aside from responding to e-mails and writing documents, the provost spends most of her daily routine meeting with people.

“Because most of what I do is about working to make things happen or to solve problems, most of my day consists of talking with people,” Skleder said. “These people generally consist of my cabinet colleagues, the president, deans, faculty, staff and students.”

Skleder, who holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and has earned both her master’s degree and doctorate from Temple University, is not a stranger to working in a smaller institution. Prior to her career at Wilkes University, she has served in a similar position at Cabrini College and as a dean for the Chatham College for Women at Chatham University. Skleder also served in a teaching position for a number of years and said she began her administrative career to help those still in the classrooms.

“In my mind, what an administrator does, serves the needs of those who actually do the work,” the former professor stated. “Faculty and staff who are working directly with students are truly doing the work of the university. They’re educating the students for the future and I’m helping them do that.”

While the position remains similar to previous administrative roles, Skleder finds that Wilkes stands out as a unique type of institution. She maintains that the university separates itself by committing to the mentoring and to the success of students, offering a wide array of programs seen mostly only at larger universities, and by making a commitment to the Wilkes-Barre community.

“I love that we’re looking, as a university, with President Leahy’s vision and the board’s support, to having more of a footprint in Wilkes-Barre. I think how we, as a university, succeed is how Wilkes-Barre succeeds,” the administrator said. “There’s not always that relationship between a university and its town.”

Skleder has carried an interest in women’s studies within higher education since her time as an undergraduate and spent time developing and maintaining programs in the field through her previous administrative roles. She is still in the process of learning about the Wilkes University women and gender studies program, but said she supports the work the department’s efforts and hopes to learn more.

“I am extremely committed to women’s success, especially their success in underrepresented fields,” Skleder said. “It is also important to me that women succeed at the same rate as men, and get paid the same. We’re not there yet. Anything that our program can do to help sensitize students to those issues and help them to become part of the solution, I am in favor of.”

There are currently five women serving within the president’s cabinet at Wilkes University which is comprised of 14 positions at this time. While this means that women in these roles are outnumbered nearly three to one, Skleder said she feels that there is an unprecedented balance among most of the administration.

“I don’t believe that fairly represented means precisely in proportion to some societal number,” Skleder said. “Since the institution started out so heavily male, I’m delighted that we are actually much more balanced than ever before, in regards to our student body population.”

Skleder is still spending time during her first year to become familiar with the university, as well as the Wilkes-Barre community. She states that time constraints are her only challenge. When she does have free time, her interests lie within cooking especially for friends and family, visiting the theatre, travelling globally and sailing which she relates to life.

“I like sailing because you have to constantly be vigilant. The wind changes and the current changes and I think it’s kind of a metaphor for life,” the senior vice president said. “You have to keep adjusting the sails and figuring out how to navigate.”