Aaron A. Walton, President of Cheyney University
President Aaron A. Walton, a proven, results-driven leader with 40 years of experience in corporate level management, was appointed as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania’s Interim President on May 31, 2017. Because of the unprecedented progress he spearheaded during his first five months, President Walton was elected as permanent President by the Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) on November 13, 2017.
President Walton is a fearless champion for Cheyney University and it students. He brings expertise in strategic planning and organizational turnarounds, and has addressed the University’s challenges head-on while leading the effort to define a new trajectory for the University. In his inaugural address to Cheyney’s faculty and staff in June 2017, President Walton outlined a clear vision for the University — to produce students who excel in academics, character, and social responsibility. Through the University’s strategic planning process, these three pillars ultimately became the foundation of Cheyney’s new Vision [link the word Vision to Vision, Mission and Values page]: to be known as the premier educational model for academic excellence, character development, and social responsibility.
A former Senior Vice President of Highmark, Inc., one of the nation’s leading healthcare providers, President Walton was one of nine principal officers responsible for providing overall management and direction of all corporate activities nationally. During his tenure at Highmark, he established and implemented a number of strategic healthcare initiatives that yielded community and company-wide growth and advancement, including an award-winning program that was one of the first programs in America to address childhood obesity and bullying. He was also instrumental in establishing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, better known as C.H.I.P, which has become a national model.
While a senior executive at Highmark, and in his subsequent retirement, he served as Vice Chair of the PASSHE Board of Governors, where he was also Chair of Academic & Student Affairs, and Chair of Human Resources. President Walton was also a longtime member of California University of Pennsylvania’s Council of Trustees, and chair from 1999 to 2003.
Prior to being tapped to lead Cheyney University, President Walton served as co-chair of the Cheyney Task Force appointed by the Board of Governors. The Task Force developed and approved, a “conceptual framework” for a new business model for Cheyney which included the creation of the Institute for the Contemporary African American Experience (ICAAE). On July 31, 2018, Governor Tom Wolf joined President Walton and other officials on Cheyney’s campus to announce the official launch of the ICAAE.
President Walton has held both leadership and advisory roles on more than 35 community boards. Some of his affiliations include the August Wilson Center for African American Culture (Chair), Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Polemarch Pittsburgh Alumni Chapter, the Kappa Scholarship Endowment Fund (Founding Board Member), NEED (Negro Emergency Educational Drive) where he served as Chair, The 100 Black Men of Western Pennsylvania, and Sire Archon, Rho Boule, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.
President Walton earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Public Management (MPM) from the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. He and his wife, Dr. Gloria M. Walton, have two adult children and two grandchildren.