December 8, 2023
On Campus

Outcomes-Driven Leader

Cheryl Cates Joins University as the New Executive Director of Career and Professional Development

Wittenberg University continues its investment in outcomes preparation with the announcement that Cheryl Cates has joined the Career and Professional Development team as the new executive director for career engagement and professional development. During the last three years and through the advancements brought forth by the strategic plan, Having Light Campaign, Connections Curriculum, and a campus-wide focus on experiential learning, Wittenberg has begun transforming the way its students gain experience, explore passion, and become prepared for post-graduate success.

“Dr. Cates’ ability to build and sustain relationships with departments and employers, her understanding of student-centered post-graduate exploration, and her experience leading teams will be great assets to Wittenberg as we all continue developing outcome-driven paths for post-graduate preparation across campus,” said Jon Duraj, assistant vice president for student development and senior associate dean of students. 

Cates joins Wittenberg after serving most of her career at the University of Cincinnati (UC), where she led its nationally ranked co-op and internship program and served as a professor focusing on career education. During her time at UC, Cates developed curricula and delivered course material related to career education for the liberal arts, business, and engineering. She also advised students about available career options while placing approximately 4,000 students into 12-20 months (about 1.5 years) of full-time paid, professional work experiences alternating with an academically rigorous curriculum. Cates reports that the average student with whom she worked earned slightly more in wages than they paid in tuition.

 “I am extremely excited to come to Wittenberg University as the pinnacle of my career,” Cates said. “Having worked with students from all majors and academic disciplines, I have a wealth of experience that I look forward to putting into practice to make Wittenberg the premier destination where a liberal arts education meets with professional experience and expectations.”

Earning her Ph.D. in organizational behavior and higher education administration from Union Institute and University, Cates also has an M.B.A. in marketing from the University of Kentucky and a B.A. in public relations from Western Kentucky University. In addition, she has published four books, 10 book chapters, four journal articles, and 24 conference proceedings, and delivered more than 60 presentations to professional organizations on the national, international, and local level. Cates, who was presented with the Cooperative Education and Internship Association’s James W. Wilson award for longstanding contributions to the promotion and advocacy of research to the field both, secured more than $2.2 million from both public and private funding sources for program expansion within target industries in Ohio and internationally into Asia, $215,000 for cooperative education program expansion, $40,000 for use of career education tools to increase student retention, and $33,000 for enhancement of career education while working at UC.

“I am really looking forward to joining the team of professionals in Career Development in the COMPASS: Sweet Success Center, many of whom are Wittenberg alums,” Cates said. “Both Charlotte Hurst, our assistant director, and Mary Britton, coordinator for career operations and student employment, have a great relationship with Wittenberg students as recent Wittenberg graduates. We are also fortunate to have a Wittenberg alum, Timmy McCarthy, as the University’s first-ever professional in residence who initiated the Tiger Ventures program that provides our students with entrepreneurial experience running two on-campus startup operations.”

For more on Wittenberg’s COMPASS: Sweet Success Center, and the University’s commitment to providing students with experiential learning and career development support that leads to post-graduate outcomes and lifelong fulfillment, visit

Recitation Hall
University Communications Staff
Staff Report

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

Back to top