2012 Distinguished Educator Award Recipient Dr. James Ploskonka '83
The Distinguished Educator Award, established in 1986, recognizes outstanding service, dedication and leadership to education. While at Mansfield, Ploskonka was a member of Phi Mu Alpha, Concert Wind Ensemble, College Orchestra, student conductor with the Concert Choir and a founding member of the Wind Ensemble Brass Quintet. He earned a BM in Music Theory/Composition in 1983 and was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a master's degree at the Boston Conservatory. He received his PhD from the University of Kentucky in Policy Studies and Evaluation and completed additional studies at Harvard University focusing on critical issues in higher education.
Ploskonka began his career as an administrator at SUNY-Oswego while also serving as an adjunct professor and member of the faculty brass quintet. During this period he instituted two college fitness centers and served as a judicial hearing officer. While serving as the Associate Director of Administration at the University of Kentucky, he taught in the College of Education, served as a research specialist for the graduate school and was a three-time nominee for the Chancellor's Award for Excellence. In 1994, Ploskonka assumed the duties of Dean of Academic Affairs for Sullivan University (KY) and was later promoted to Executive Director; it was during this time that the university became the largest private college in the Commonwealth. Currently, he oversees four campuses in Ohio in his leadership and senior management role with Bryant & Stratton College that serves over 15,000 students.
Ploskonka has served on numerous community, state, regional and national boards and organizations including the College Personnel Association of Kentucky, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the Music Commission for the National United Choirs, and the intermediate review commission for the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. He has authored several publications and presented numerous topics on higher education throughout the United States.
Numerous community organizations benefit from his leadership as he serves as vice chair for St. Mary's Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC), has developed and sponsors a monthly Soup Kitchen in Parma, Ohio, and serves on the Western Diocesan Council of the PNCC. Ploskonka is the father of three boys and lives in Seven Hills, Ohio, with his wife Elaine.