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Meet the New Vice Chancellor

 

Peter Abeta Iyere hails from the southwest region of Nigeria that offered few opportunities for young men growing up in the 1960s and 70s. Today he possesses a doctorate in inorganic chemistry and x-ray crystallography from Brandeis University and is the newest to join the administrative ranks of Utah State University Eastern.

Students take note: challenges are no excuse for not setting and achieving goals.

Iyere (pronounced Eey ere), as the new vice chancellor for Price Campus Student Success, has arrived at USU Eastern eager to help students understand and believe that they are bound for success. And, he is at USU Eastern to show them what it takes to get there. The fact that the word, success, is in his title is no small matter. He takes it seriously. The fact that USU Eastern is an institution of higher learning is also crucial.

“Education is the key that unlocks the door to opportunities,” he said.

And, the fact that USU Eastern is committed to student success as evidenced by its ranking as third best in the nation in student graduation rate, also plays a role in his choice of USU Eastern, he said.

“The mission and vision of USU Eastern align with my experience and professional goals,” he said.

(Second note to students: he’s still setting goals.)

Some of his new goals include learning the culture and values of the college, establishing rapport with colleagues and students, developing plans (read on for more about his penchant for planning) to use assessment to ensure that programs are aligned with institutional goals and that students achieve intended learning. And being there for students and giving them little nudges in the right direction like his father once did for him.

As a boy he was actually more interested in playing soccer than going to school. But his father had other ideas for him, and getting an education was one of them, he said.

“My father’s confidence in me, regardless of my mischief, motivated me to focus on my schoolwork,” he said.  

His father was his role model. He admired his great sense of humor and ability to handle difficult situations. He admired his intelligence, despite his lack of formal education. And it was a visit that he and his father paid to a friend of his father’s that helped him to connect the dots between getting an education and living a more comfortable life.

He vividly remembers the day of visiting that family and meeting one of the boys who had just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. He learned during the visit how this young man’s newly acquired degree helped him to land a job in government, get access to free housing and a loan to buy a new car.

“That drew my attention to the benefits of education,” he said. “At the end of our visit, my father was pleased with me because I promised to work hard to be like, or better, than his friend’s son.”

It was a defining moment, and one that provides a little insight into the spirited disposition of the young Iyere.

“I am very competitive by nature,” he said. “So, as a youth, I always aspired to be the best in anything I did.”

While in high school, where he was appointed Senior Prefect (head boy) by the 11th grade, he was challenged by a peer in his class who outscored him twice in a row in two class tests. As though borrowing from the first chapter of the ancient Chinese military treatise “The Art of War,” he enlisted the power of observation and the laying of plans.

“I decided to make him my friend so that I could study with him to learn his study technique,” he said. “What I learned from him propelled me to the top of the class, a position I shared with him on many occasions; it was a lesson that has remained useful to me to this day.”

He has stayed at the top of his game for the past 31 years of an illustrious career in higher education that has included teaching, research and administrative work at several colleges and universities across the country. He comes to USU Eastern from Bryan College of Health Sciences where he was dean of the General Studies Division.

Iyere said that he was attracted to USU Eastern because of its unique quality as a comprehensive community college embedded in a land-grant research university. He likes the rural setting of a regional college that, at the same time, is part of the Utah State University system. It’s the best of both worlds.

And he likes the fact that everything he has done in his life has led up to this new opportunity to head student success at USU Eastern. He says he’s ready for it.

“The institution, widely recognized for its commitment to student success, has all the elements in place to leverage my knowledge and skills,” he said. “Experience gained from many years of teaching and administration in public and private institutions.”

And the elements that make his job especially rewarding are those that directly involve students, particularly those with special needs, to successfully complete their college education.

Yes he holds four degrees, has dozens of professional activities under his belt, has received honors and grants and has authored more than a dozen publications, yet what matters the most to Iyere are the opportunities to inspire and influence students for the better. He said the best compliment he has ever received came from an undergraduate student, majoring in English, who wrote in the university newspaper that chemistry was his favorite subject because Iyere, who became his favorite professor, found ways to stimulate his interest in the topic.

“I still have the newspaper tucked away in the safest corner of my box of treasures,” he said, because it’s the little things, when added together, that make all the difference in success.

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Writer: John DeVilbiss, 435-797-1358; john.devilbiss@usu.edu