Search underway for retention admin

By Leah Cooper, Managing Editor
On October 24, 2008

ASU initiated a national search Oct. 21 to find an associate vice president to head the new Student Support and Retention office. President Joseph C. Rallo approved the plan Oct. 6 to integrate several offices under this associate VP to focus on retention efforts, Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Donald Coers said.

"We've taken the old dean of Student Life and we have created a new piece," Coers said. "It's not just Student Life anymore; it's Student Support and Retention, and it will be an associate VP rather than a dean."

The interim for this position is Dr. Kevin Lambert, College of Liberal and Fine Arts dean.

"He's doing that in the interim just to kick it off, get it started until we can get somebody hired," Coers said.

Coers said the biggest challenge ASU faces is retaining students. This new office, he said, is an avenue that will help ASU overcome this problem.

"The purpose of the re-organization is to support academic success and student welfare," Lambert said. "If we do those two things well, one effect will be increased retention."

Lambert said he will be chairing the search committee for the associate VP.

"We hope to bring someone in as soon as possible, perhaps even as early as March," Lambert said. "It depends on how long the search takes and on how soon the person we choose can get here."

The interim dean of Student Life, Nolen Mears, is now the executive director of Student Life and Student Services. This office is one of four functioning underneath the new Student Support and Retention office.

Enrollment Management, which includes Admissions, the Registrar and Financial Aid, will fall under this category along with Center for Academic Excellence and the new First Year Experience Program.

"That (FYE program), of course, is going to be a big, new office concerned with increasing our student retention," Coers said. The FYE sector contains several programs for incoming freshman, he said. "It offers the kind of programs that incline students to stay at a university."

According to Dr. Gloria Duarte, director of the FYE program, the University Studies class at ASU and FYE will be focusing on problem solving and critical reading techniques along with other skills to help students succeed in college.

"Our goal for this class and this program is to help students transition into university life, particularly academic life," Duarte said.

Rick Grieg will remain director of Student Involvement, working beneath the Student Life and Student Services office.

Center for Academic Excellence, directed by Dr. Susan Neste, will continue to aid in student advising and supplemental instruction.

Lambert said he met with the four directors on Monday to discuss how they and their offices might work together. Most of the work, he said, will be done by the directors.

"Years from now this new structure will still help our students in many important ways," Lambert said. "I am glad to have a part in getting it started."

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