When Dr. Andrew Hamilton, the new Associate Vice Provost of Student Success and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at UNC Greensboro, is asked what student success means, his response is enthusiastic. “Student success is the relationship between student outcomes and what’s actually happening between students and teachers in the classroom — the place where the rubber hits the road.”
Hamilton, who joined UNCG in July, brings a wealth of experience from his previous roles as Associate Dean in the Honors College and later the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, both at the University of Houston. He also served as Executive Director for Academic Innovation at UH. Before that, he was a faculty member and graduate program director in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University.
Hamilton will oversee the University’s existing student success operations, including the Student Success Center, the Students First Office, New Student Transitions and First Year Experience, and College Completion Initiatives, while building towards the next steps in supporting students.
The Dean of Undergraduate Studies part of Hamilton’s title means that he oversees the general education curriculum. A goal for Hamilton in this area is for faculty and administrators to better articulate to students why their general education requirements matter and how those courses can benefit them in whatever career and life paths they choose.
Two of the key areas of focus for Hamilton and his team will be student retention and creating better cohesion and communication between the Student Success Division and each academic unit on campus.
“We are in the transition from a model where we support teachers from an outside, centralized approach to a new mode of operations where we see ourselves as an embedded resource for the front-line troops who do the work of teaching and learning,” says Hamilton.
Hamilton notes that a major goal of Student Success is to better serve non-traditional students. Transfer students, military veterans, older students, students from rural backgrounds or low income families, first generation students, and students who are parents require more flexible and innovative resources for support than traditional students. The Student Success team is charged with figuring out better ways to lower barriers to academic success for these groups.
Another key goal for Hamilton and his team is to make sure students understand that they have been accepted to college in order to embark on a journey to discover their true selves.
“Student success lasts a lifetime,” says Hamilton. “Being admitted to college is not just completing requirements, but is about discovering who you are, what you are good at, and what you really want to do.” Steering students toward discovery, exposing them to new ideas and opportunities, and allowing students the room to fail in productive ways are all approaches in which Student Success can support their academic journey.
“When students find their flame, get out of the way,” Hamilton says. “We want to make sure that we’re in the business of setting students up for success in their college careers and then in later life, which includes their personal and professional lives. And we’re trying to plant the seeds of success.”
For more information on the UNCG Student Success Center, visit https://studentsuccess.uncg.edu/
In next week’s CW, an update on UNCG’s student success initiatives and offerings.
By Matthew Bryant
Photo by Martin W. Kane