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GREENSBORO, N.C. - Judy B. Cheatham, the Jefferson-Pilot Professor of English at Greensboro College, has been named vice president for literary services by Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation's largest nonprofit organization working for children's literacy.
"The RIF Board of Directors and I feel fortunate Dr. Cheatham will be joining our staff to provide literacy content and research oversight," RIF President and CEO Carol Rasco said. "Her work in children's and youth literacy among those populations most at risk of low literacy achievement is the audience we seek to assist most through our programs, services and advocacy. She is a respected and knowledgeable voice in the field and will bring strength to our efforts."
"Documenting what Judy Cheatham has meant to this college during the past 20 years, and to the lives of students here and elsewhere during her career, could be a doctoral thesis in and of itself," said Greensboro College President Lawrence D. Czarda, Ph.D. "We will miss her. But we're thrilled that by joining an organization with the stature of Reading is Fundamental, she will be able to help even more young people learn to read and write, because teaching those skills and helping others teach them has been her lifelong passion. My wife, Carolyn, and I have had the privilege of getting to know Judy fairly well in our first months at GC, and we will stay in touch with her as she assumes this important new role in Washington. We wish her all the best and Godspeed."
Cheatham will begin her new duties in late January at RIF's national headquarters in Washington. But the work she will be doing has roots in her earliest days in academia and builds on efforts and interests that have marked her career.
As a newly minted professor at Eastern Kentucky University in the mid-1980s, she worked in some of the least-educated areas of America, in conjunction with the Kentucky Literacy Commission and the Kentucky Humanities Council, researching ways to improve literacy and, by extension, learning. She also was a project developer and grant writer for workforce-development efforts in that impoverished region.
Her work brought her into close contact with people who had had little contact with the world of higher learning. But having grown up in central Tennessee, she had no trouble relating to them, "and with my Elly May Clampett accent, nobody was intimidated by me," she recalls. She ended up writing her doctoral dissertation on nontraditional college students from the Appalachian region. Her literacy work since then has introduced her to everyone from illiterate adults struggling to learn to read to both Presidents Bush.
She joined the Greensboro College faculty in 1989 as an endowed chair of the college's writing program. She developed and supervised the college's Writing Across the Curriculum program, secured two grants to outfit two of the first "computerized writing classrooms" in the state, and also worked with the Guilford County Schools on writing contests for students in grades six through 12.
From 2001 to 2006, she served as dean of the adult education program (now Professional & Graduate Studies) and created and became the first director of the college's M.A. program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. During her tenure, she expanded the degree and licensure programs from three to 13, doubled enrollment, added a satellite site at Rockingham (County) Community College, and created the Executive Bachelor's in Business Administration program and three new master's programs.
Since 2006, she has served as Jefferson-Pilot Professor of English, directed the TESOL graduate program, and coordinated licensure for English education. Her teaching has won awards at GC and every previous stop in her career dating to her teaching assistantships in graduate school.
In the community and nationally she has led literacy efforts by serving on boards and committees overseeing efforts ranging from the city of Greensboro's biannual "One City, One Book" program and O. Henry Festivals to the Goals 2000 Adult Literacy Taskforce, to which she was appointed by President George H.W. Bush. In Greensboro and Guilford County, she was a member of the founding board of the countywide literacy effort Reading Connections in 1990 and has worked with that organization ever since. She has served on the board of directors of the National Literacy Volunteers of America, being named that group's National Volunteer of the Year in 1999, and as president of the N.C. Literacy Association.
Cheatham holds a B.A. from Middle Tennessee State University, an M.A. from the University of Tennessee and a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi. Her husband, George, also taught for years at Greensboro College and served as chair of the English department before being named dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., this past summer.
Greensboro College, an independent, coeducational college affiliated with the United Methodist Church, is an academic and social community that unites the liberal arts and Judeo-Christian values in an atmosphere of diversity and mutual respect.
Founded in 1838 and located near downtown Greensboro, the college enrolls about 1,200 students from 26 states, the District of Columbia and 24 nations in its undergraduate liberal-arts program and four master's degree programs. In addition to rigorous academics and a well-supported Honors program, the school features a 16-sport athletic program and dozens of service and recreational organizations.