Robert Donley's favorite moments in the graduate program at Saint Joseph's College were reading quietly by the lake. "It was so peaceful," he says of his two summer school experiences on campus while earning his master's degree in education. Along with those memories, he recalls the heartfelt camaraderie with professors and students.
Flash forward seven years later and he now has the top job in higher education for the state of Iowa, where he is executive director of the state Board of Regents. He oversees a 30-member staff and operations for three universities serving 70,000 students and a budget of $3.6 billion. His duties include achieving administrative, academic and legislative goals set by the Regents. In effect, he's the chancellor of the Iowa higher education system.
Donley grew up in Providence, R.I., and worked as an administrator in state government there, moving up to a position as Deputy Secretary of State. In 1995, he moved to Miami and became executive assistant to the president of Florida International University. From there he moved on to a position as chief of staff and operations for the Board of Governors for the State University System of Florida.
His new position will come with challenges as the Regents draft a new strategic plan this year, and he will be working closely with the Legislature on its implementation. He says of his new job, "It's a tremendous position, and I always look forward to a challenge."
Having spent summer vacations in Maine as a child, Donley loves the state. He chose Saint Joseph's for its hospitality, its sense of tradition and the quality of its education in a Catholic setting.
And being able to read by the lake didn't hurt either.