Kettil Cedercreutz Named Director of Professional Practice
Date: Sept. 10, 2001
By: Keesha Nickison
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Archive: Faculty Profiles
Be it a deck of cards or an uncharted opportunity, Kettil Cedercreutz always has a trick or two up his sleeve. Cedercreutz has been named the new Associate Provost and Director of the Division of Professional Practice, the department responsible for UC's long, rich tradition of providing students with real-world experience.
For the past 25 years, the position was held by Sam Sovilla, the "grand old man of co-op," as he has been called. Having established the University of Cincinnati as the world leader in cooperative education, Sam is handing over the reigns.
Many students know Cedercreutz as the department head of mechanical engineering technology in the College of Applied Science. To most people, movement into Professional Practice would not be a logical career choice. But for Cedercreutz, it makes perfect sense. "I've always had a passion for the interface between industry and academia," he says.
Cedercreutz began work in academia in his homeland of Finland. He graduated from the Helsinki University of Technology with a major in manufacturing engineering and industrial economics. He worked for four years at Neles-Jamesbury, an international control valve manufacturer. From there, he began a career at the Swedish Institute of Technology (SIT), a school in Helsinki with Swedish as its language of instruction. Because only 6 percent of the nation's citizens speak Swedish, the school's size and available opportunities were quite limited.
As the head of the chemical engineering department at SIT, Cedercreutz diligently sought liaisons abroad, but was repeatedly told by foreign counterparts that the institution was too small. With Cedercreutz as a part of the administrative team, the institute expanded its horizons and moved into a large technology park having ample and modern resources. Simultaneously, the language of instruction was shifted to English in select programs. The shift in educational strategy led to a relationship and student exchange with UC's College of Applied Science. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Cedercreutz and his family moved to the United States in 1995 when Cedercreutz was offered a faculty position in Applied Science. Though he'd only spent six weeks in the U.S. as a visiting lecturer, Cedercreutz's previous work with UC students made him confident that the move would be both successful and rewarding. He says the entire family, including his children (now 15 and 17), is still going through cultural adaptations, but they now speak three languages almost fluently.
With 14 years of experience as a professor and eight years as a department head, Cedercreutz feels more than prepared for the challenges ahead in Professional Practice. His resume, however, expands far beyond the typical world of academia. In addition to countless voyages abroad, Cedercreutz is a veteran of the Finnish circus. Specializing in magic tricks and rope spinning, Cedercreutz ran away to join the circus at only 16 years of age. "I don't think anything taught me more about life than those summers," he says.
Cedercreutz also knows what it's like to work as a co-op employee. "I had a brilliant Senior Design student who "co-oped" at Modal Shop, Inc. [in Cincinnati] and I thought to myself, 'where does he get all these ideas?'" So in 1997, Cedercreutz sought one-summer co-op position with the company and established consulting relationships with the students there. He has continued to serve the corporation through the years, and is responsible for product development within the field of accelerometer calibration.
So where does one take a program that is already first in its class? It seems that Professional Practice, which serves 3,600 students and 1,300 employers, would have little room for growth. According to Cedercreutz, there are always new opportunities to be explored. Currently, only 35 percent of UC students participating in co-op do so out of state, and only 1 percent work abroad. "There is definitely room for growth in both sectors," says Cedercreutz.
But first, Cedercreutz has a great deal of information to absorb. He also plans to do a lot of walking around, listening to every person individually, and getting a feel for where the challenges and opportunities are. "After that, we will need to sit down and prioritize. Various work-based learning concepts offer a good potential of growth for the university," he says.
Cedercreutz looks forward to the 100th year celebration of co-op in 2006, which he hopes will give the program great exposure. He also appreciates the great level of support the university gives the program, evidenced by the new building on MainStreet that will house co-op when completed in 2003. Cedercreutz also looks forward to discussions of UC branding and feels the concepts of professional values and work-based learning should play a major role in that process. He says, "These features differentiate UC. They are very marketable."
Cedercreutz is not at all intimidated by the shoes he has to fill. In fact, his response is, "Do I have to fill them?" He explains, "The accumulated knowledge is well embedded in the organization. My job is to break the ground around what we already know, to enlarge the envelope. What attracted me most to the position was the opportunity to lead a world-class educational program having an immense potential for future development."
Cedercreutz is proud of the reputation UC's co-op program has earned for itself and believes that there is one major difference between schools with co-op programs and those without - "Industry gears education to go one leap forward." The essence of Professional Practice can be summarized in one word, he says, "OPPORTUNITY." As for the challenges, he replies, "We'll see...it's gonna be fun."
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