Retirement dinner held for vice president for public affairs
Norman Woods, PhD, past president of Loma Linda University, was instrumental in hiring Mr. Cheatham to work for the institution in 1985.
A dinner hosted by Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center president and chief executive officer B. Lyn Behrens, MBBS, for retiring vice president for public affairs W. Augustus Cheatham, MSW, was held on Monday evening, September 3, in Wong Kerlee International Conference Center.
Mr. Cheatham, who is retiring after 22 years of service to Loma Linda University, is the longest serving vice president in the history of the institution.
For more than two decades, W. Augustus Cheatham has served as chief public affairs officer for the core organizations that make up Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center (LLUAHSC). His direction of media, publications, marketing, community relations, University relations, volunteer services, University special events, and other liaison responsibilities and opportunities between the University and the news media and general public has consistently emphasized excellence, partnerships, and integrity.
Mr. Cheatham completed the bachelor of arts degree (1965) at Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland. He continued his education at Howard University, in Washington, D.C., where he earned the master of social work degree.
In 1966, Mr. Cheatham was appointed asistant director of federal programs for Prince George’s County Public Schools of Maryland. In 1970, he was named chief of western operations in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Division of Education for the Disadvantaged—a position h
Mr. Cheatham’s daughters, Marta (left) and Nicole, smile for the camera during the farewell dinner.
e held for seven years.
When Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph Califano recommended and President Jimmy Carter approved his reassignment to the Office of Civil Rights in 1977, he assumed overall responsibility for budget, personnel, and operations of the agency’s more than 3,000 employees nationwide. A fond memory of this appointment was the experience of having the oath of office administrated by Associate Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
In 1980, Mr. Cheatham joined the United States Department of Education as deputy assistant secretary for compensatory education and as principal adviser to the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education for the Title I and Follow Through programs. Charged with oversight of the department’s largest program and its $3.5 billion budget, he gained recognition as an expert in educational strategies that are successful with diverse school populations. During his 16 years of government service, Mr. Cheatham brought to his assignments a profound sensitivity on behalf of America’s voiceless, and he established a strong record of advocacy as he worked to develop strategies that addressed and prevented discrimination.
In 1982, Mr. Cheatham made a career transition from work in the government sector to the Church arena, where he agreed to serve as principal of Pine Forge Academy in Pine Forge, Pennsylvania. Under his leadership, within three years the academy experienced a 170 percent increase
Recording artist and pastor Wintley Phipps was on hand to sing a number of inspirational songs, as well as offer a tribute and words of encouragement.
in enrollment, a 600 percent increase in development activities, and a $1.5 million increase in grants and subsidies.
In addition to major campus renovations completed during his tenure, a new gymnasium, an academy church, and an industrial arts building were constructed. Also, his efforts helped to increase visibility and exposure of the academy’s award-winning choral organization—which continues to enjoy national renown because of its rich, powerful, and harmonious quality.
In 1985, Mr. Cheatham joined Loma Linda University as vice president for public relations and development. In 1997, this title was changed to vice president of LLUAHSC.
During more than two decades of exceptional public affairs leadership of his award-winning staff, he has played a significant role in communicating to and developing unique relationships with the broad diversity of the University’s internal and external constituencies. His unique approach has created more complete understanding of and greater appreciation for this health-sciences community.
Since Mr. Cheatham’s arrival in 1985, the organizations that make up LLUAHSC have grown to occupy positions of global renown in education, research, service-oriented patient care, and advancing technology. As public affairs vice president, he has continually demonstrated an impeccable sense of timing and choice of medium for effectively, strategically, and appropriately communicating news and information relative to LLU
Guests mingle as they wait in a receiving line to personally greet Mr. Cheatham.
Included in his extensive professional legacy to this community are LLUAHSC branding and marketing guidelines and standards that apply to all print, electronic, and broadcast forms of communication; outstanding examples of special events planning and execution as exemplified in the inaugural events that took place during his tenure, as well as the 2005–2006 institutional centennial celebrations; and his personal and professional modeling of qualities that have strengthened support of LLUAHSC entities through internal and external communications as well as government, community, and media relations.
Mr. Cheatham has been the recipient of a variety of honors including the Flashes of Brilliance Award from the Academy of Health Services Marketing, the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Educational Press Association of America, the Gold Medal Award for alumni publications from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the Alumnus of the Year Award from Columbia Union College, and the Distinguished University Service Award from Loma Linda University.
Mr. Cheatham is married to Ida Anderson Cheatham. They have three adult children—William Lee III, Marta, and Nicole—and seven grandchildren.
On April 16, 2007, Mr. Cheatham announced his intention to step down effective July 9, 2007.
By Richard Weismeyer & Audrey Howard, EdD
Many friends and former colleagues wrote personal messages as they went through the receiving line.
B. Lyn Behrens, MBBS (left), president of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, presents the Good Samaritan Award to Mr. Cheatham. Assisting her is (from left) Ruthita Fike, MA, CEO and administrator of Loma Linda University Medical Center, and Richard Hart, MD, DrPH, Loma Linda University chancellor.
Dr. Behrens (right) places the LLUAHSC President’s Medal, the highest honor bestowed on individuals by the institution, around the neck of Mr. Cheatham while his wife, Ida Cheatham (center), Ms. Fike (second from left) and Dr. Hart (left) look on. Mr. Cheatham was awarded the LLUAHSC Distinguished Service Award during LLU School of Medicine commencement ceremonies.
Members of the Cheatham family were in attendance at the farewell. In the photo above, they gather for a family portrait following the program.