I have been around and learning about higher education for over 50 years. I was born just outside College Park, Maryland, where my father was finishing his doctorate at the University of Maryland. I was raised two blocks from Salisbury University on the Eastern Shore and spent much of my first 18 years in the Salisbury U. library, pool, basketball courts, track, and taking summer classes. At the same time, my father taught biology, botany, and marine biology at University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (UMES) located in Princess Anne and at UMES I attended camps, played in the student union, hung out at the campus greenhouse and pond (while Dad worked), and explored my father’s office, lab, and classroom. We typically visited my parent’s alma maters (Hood College and U. of Maryland) each year for Homecoming or reunions. My mother was even a humble winner of White Blazer award for the top athlete at Hood!
Once leaving Maryland, I spent the next six years at the University of Virginia (UVA), where I earned a bachelor’s in biology and a master’s in counseling. I even spent one summer doing research on Alzheimer’s at the UVA Medical School. Near the end of my time at UVA, I completed internships at the University of Lynchburg and Florida State University. After leaving Charlottesville, I spent the next 4 years at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), getting experience in a wide variety of areas.
I then returned to the U of Virginia in 1998 where I completed another degree (Ph.D.) while and completing a minor at UVA’s Darden School of Business. While there, I worked in IT at UVA and then for a couple years at the Federal Executive Institute,, a 4-week on-campus leadership program for top U.S. Government managers. In 2001, we returned to the other side of Blue Ridge Mountains where I worked at Shenandoah University as an Assistant Vice President. In 2003, after spending fifteen years on side or the other of the mountains, we moved to Boone, North Carolina, at 3,400 feet in the mountains, where I worked Appalachian State University and enjoyed watching 3 national championships in football there!
While at App State, I taught graduate classes in higher education for Appalachian State to university faculty and staff at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Isothermal Community College, Cleveland Community College, and Catawba Valley Community College.
Last but not least, in 2010, my family and I moved to Waco where I served at Baylor University for 11.5 years. From 2010 to 2019, I worked the Dean for Student Learning & Engagement, overseeing housing (over 5,000 beds), orientation (for ~3,200 incoming students), Greek Life (25% of students), 350 student organizations (70% of 20,000 students involved), 10 living-learning communities (50% of first years), 15 faculty-in-residence, the Student Union, campus programs, spirit & traditions (including the live bears and zoo on campus and the oldest Homecoming in the nation,) Waco Hall (a ~2,000 seat performance venue), Line Camp (extended orientation), residence hall construction and renovations, and a leadership program and academic minor in leadership.
In 2019, I shifted to the Provost’s Office where I served in Institutional Effectiveness. My focus was on all the 60 or more departments not responsible for teaching courses and I focused on helping them plan, implement, assess, and improve over time. In addition, I facilitated Baylor’s 5th Year Report for our accreditation with SACS, the organization which accredits over 775 universities in the southern U.S. While working at Baylor I was asked to participate in 7 institutional reviews for SACSCOC.
In January 2022, I chose to resign from my role at Baylor, in order to explore new opportunities in higher education that would allow me to better utilize my 3 decades of experience at multiple university types to strengthen our universities and positively impact students.
In the meantime, I have been working more than full days in three primary roles. The first is as a Consulting Advisor for Higher Talent Executive Search, where my recent searches have included a students affairs leader at college in Maryland, a vice president for a political organization focused on united the left and right, and a leader in human resources at a Catholic diocese in Virginia. The second role is as a dissertation chair and reader for multiple Liberty University doctoral students and the third role is as graduate faculty member for Texas Christian University in summer 2022. Lastly, I am also a job explorer, talking to over 250 colleagues from January to July 2022 in various careers linked to my loves of universities, college student development, and organizational success. If you have an idea I should consider or someone that I should meet with, please let me know.
My story is not yet over, so soon I expect to have even more exciting steps in my professional journey. However, hopefully, this “short story” suffices as a basis for me to have a little bit of a platform to share my deep thoughts on higher education.