Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell

Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell, dean of the UI’s College of Applied Health Sciences, outside of Huff Hall.

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She’s the correct answer to this campus trivia stumper: Of the five current UI deans who earned a combined 10 academic degrees from the Urbana campus, who’s the only one with three?

As an added bonus, CHERYL HANLEY-MAXWELL also met her future husband during her days as a student in C-U, before leaving on an academic journey that would include four years at Southern Illinois-Carbondale and 26 at Wisconsin-Madison before returning to her alma mater to become dean of the UI’s College of Applied Health Sciences.

On the job for five years come August, the three-degree alumna took time out to answer a few questions from Editor Jeff D’Alessio in the 59th installment of our weekly speed read spotlighting leaders of organizations big and small.


My philosophy on meetings is ... three-fold: 1. Meet only if necessary. 2. Keep them as short as possible. 3. Make them a forum for interaction. Do not use meetings just for announcements.

The hardest thing about being a leader is ... balancing multiple pressures in a way that has the least detrimental effect on those I lead.

I’m frugal in that ... it’s difficult to get me to buy something for myself that I don’t absolutely need.

The last luxury in which I indulged was ... not sharing a box of chocolates from Swiss Colony.

However, that probably does not fall within the luxury category. Instead, the last luxury I indulged in was buying George Thorogood concert tickets.

My single favorite moment of all-time in this job was ... being able to give someone I highly respect a college achievement award.

I can’t live without my ... iPhone and iPad. They are a portable office, allowing me to continue to work when I am not in my office. They’re also essential in connecting with family and friends, and provide access to e-books and audiobooks. I love to read.

More important, they are sources of information whenever I need or want it.

My business role model is ... my former dean in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsiin-Madison.

She was a brilliant, organized, compassionate and fair leader who listened well and supported those around her.

My one unbreakable rule of the workplace is ... work with integrity.

The biggest business risk I ever took was ... taking my current job as dean. I am “late” in my career and when I walked into the first interview, I was not sure I had will or talent to be an effective dean. I fell in love with the college and decided I could do the work.

Taking the job paid off in many ways. I have the opportunity to work with talented and dedicated people who do work in meaningful areas. It has not only been a privilege to be associated with the work of the College of Applied Health Sciences; being dean of this college — and being a dean on this campus — has given me a chance to be part of higher education at its best.

The most beneficial college class I took is ... difficult to remember because it has been several decades since I last took courses. While I don’t remember the course name, I remember its content.

As a master’s student in special education, here at the University of Illinois, I took a course that included exploring the theory of normalization, and in particular, the dignity of risk. This content profoundly shaped my fundamental beliefs about people with disabilities and the service systems that are intended to support them, and formed the path I pursued in my doctoral program and career.

I’m up and at ’em every day by ... 7:30. If I had my way, it’d be 8 or 8:30 because I am more of a night person than a morning person.

My exercise routine is ... fitness walking for 30-45 minutes as often as I can. However, in snowy winter, it can also be shoveling snow.

The worst job I ever had was ... working as a salesperson at the hosiery counter at Wiebolt’s Department store. I knew nothing about what I was selling.

On a 1-to-10 scale, the impact of the pandemic has been a ... 5. Like most people, the pandemic has disrupted my work routines, social activities, interactions with other people and my sense of security. Nevertheless, I am acutely aware of how fortunate I am to have my job.

However, I don’t think we can separate the pandemic from the social upheaval of this past year. If this is included, the impact would be 8.

Taken together, this past year has profoundly affected my assumptions and beliefs, and has shaken the foundations of some of my relationships. These impacts will have a more far-reaching effect than the pandemic.

Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell

Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell succeeded fellow UI alumna Tanya Gallagher as dean of the College of Applied Health Sciences in 2016.

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