Dr. Cheryl Norton, who was named as the first female president of Slippery Rock University last Thursday, will begin serving our campus on June 4.
Norton, who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, completed her bachelor’s degree in physical education at Denison University, located in Granville, Ohio. While attending Denison, Norton met her husband, Henry. During her time in Ohio, Norton and her husband worked at a local church school before going on to work at the University of Virginia Hospital, which is where, she said, she learned a lot about people.
Norton then went on to study at the University of Columbia in New York, which is where she earned two masters degrees, in psychology and education, as well as her doctorate in applied physiology. After learning that her husband accepted a job offer in Denver, Colo., Norton also accepted a teaching position at the Metropolitan State College, located in Denver. She taught in the department of Human Performance, Sport, and Leisure Studies for 16 years before becoming the department chair in 1992. In 1996, Norton became the interim associate dean of professional studies, and began serving as the provost and vice president of academic affairs a year later before ending her 28-year career at the college.
“My time teaching in Denver was what really solidified my interest in higher education,” Norton said. “The college, which had about 20,300 students, gave me the opportunity to learn about the challenges in the field.”
“My philosophy on education is that if we, as educators, are developers of education in the classroom, then we should be a part of the solution when problems arise,” she said.
From 2004 to 2010, Norton served as the president of Southern Connecticut State University, located in New Haven, Conn., which had about 12,000 students enrolled at the time. In the past few years, Norton has been working on sabbatical work with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C.
Norton stated that what most attracted her to Slippery Rock University was the sense of community.
“I hope to maintain that great sense of community that Slippery Rock has always had,” she said. “I also hope that my experience with larger schools will help add to it even more.”
Norton feels that her love for sports and an active lifestyle also make her a good fit for SRU. As an undergraduate student, Norton initially majored in mathematics until she realized how much she truly loved sports.
“When I was a math major, I couldn’t stand being inside writing out theorems when I knew that I could be outside doing something that I loved,” she said. “That is when I knew I wanted to switch my major to physical education.”
Norton’s athletic achievements include a black belt in Tae Kwon Do which earned her a state championship title, and a fifth place win in the New York City Marathon. Norton also wrote a best-selling book on how to play racquetball for beginners in 1984. At one time, she and her husband operated their own dog sled team, while owning 13 to 15 Siberian Huskies. Currently, Norton and her husband own two German Shepherds and two cats, all of which they will be bringing to campus.
“We walk our dogs two miles a day,” she said. “Upon coming to Slippery Rock, we’ll have to find a good walking trail for them, because I feel that exercise is extremely important for everybody, including my dogs.”
Norton and her husband, Henry, have two grown sons, Joel, 34, who works as a lawyer, and Aaron, 30, who is currently working on his master’s degree. Joel and his wife, Elizabeth, have two sons, William, 3, and Andrew, who was born last Thursday.
Norton found out that her youngest grandson was born on the same day that she found out about earning the presidential position at SRU.
“After receiving the call that I had become president, I received a text from my son saying that I had become a grandmother for the second time,” she said. “It was truly a wonderful day.”
Norton is excited to begin this new chapter of her career at SRU and is eager to meet the students and faculty.
“Henry and I are thrilled in our coming to Slippery Rock and to become a part of the community,” she said. “We couldn’t be happier to have this opportunity.”