A Short Journey Of Jeff

As early as I can remember, I have been on college campuses. I was born just outside College Park, Maryland, where my father was finishing his doctorate at the University of Maryland. I grew up the son of a faculty member at an HBCU (Historically Black College and University. My father won several teaching and mentoring awards while sharing his love of botany, biology, and marine biology, while also investing in students navigating the challenges of college and life after college. He worked with the State of Maryland to research and share new ways of experientially teaching the sciences. Since he spent 30 years at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (UMES), I was often on campus attending summer camps, playing in the student union, hanging out at the campus greenhouse and pond, and exploring my father’s office, lab, and classroom.

I grew up two blocks from Salisbury University and spent much of my first 18 years at the Salisbury University library, pool, basketball courts, and track. I took attended many summer workshops and completed 36 credits pre-college, most of them at or through Salisbury U. I was a 17 year old surrounded by college juniors and seniors while I took Calculus II and III in addition to being the only high schooler exploring two psychology courses. My mother, and her mother, were both reference librarians so I also spent much time reading books, magazines, and Microfiche (tiny cards) and Microfilm (rolls of film) at the local library.

We typically visited my parent’s alma maters (Hood College and U. of Maryland) each year for Homecoming and/or reunions. My mother was even a humble winner of White Blazer award for the top athlete at Hood College! On family vacations we often toured colleges for fun.

My college visits included tours of over 40 colleges on three trips with my father to Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina. The last time I visited my father before he passed in 2018, he gave me the old composition notebook with all his notes from each of the college tours. I actually even have several pre-Excel, dot matrix printed, quantitative analyses of my college exploration that greatly exceeded the content in the first U.S. News College Rankings coming out around the same time (see below). In short, I have been around and learning about higher education for over 50 years.

Once leaving Maryland, I spent the next six years at the University of Virginia (UVA), where I earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in counselor education (student affairs focus). Before deciding on my counseling degree, I spent a summer at the UVA Medical School, leading an Alzheimer’s-related research project exploring the interactions of brain stems and heavy metal ions analyzed using gel electrophoresis.

After trying out my first two years, I made the UVA Club Volleyball Team my junior year and at the end of my senior year, in club nationals, we finished 7th in the nation (give me very little credit). I also joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and started volunteering in the local community with Adopt-a-Grandparent and youth sports.

One winter break I worked at the National Zoo. In addition, I spent a year “helping” UVA football rise to #1 in the nation (i.e. I contacted Heisman Voters weekly.)

During my master’s program, in order to get some non-UVA experiences, I completed internships at the University of Lynchburg and Florida State University.

After leaving Charlottesville, I spent 4 years at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), getting experience in leadership programming, recreational sports, and university-wide assessment. I returned to the U of Virginia in 1998 where I completed another degree (Ph.D.) while and earning an organizational behavior concentration at UVA’s Darden School of Business.

While earning my doctorate, I worked at the Federal Executive Institute, a 4-week on-campus leadership program for top U.S. Government managers. After graduation, I moved to Winchester, VA where I was the Assistant Vice President for Student Life at Shenandoah University. In 2003, after spending fifteen years on either side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, we moved to Boone, North Carolina, literally in the mountains at 3,400 feet! There, I worked in student life at Appalachian State University!

While at App State, I was asked to teach graduate classes in higher education to university faculty and staff at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Isothermal Community College, Cleveland Community College, and Catawba Valley Community College.

In 2010, my family and I moved to Waco, Texas where I served at Baylor University for 11.5 years. During this time, as the Dean for Student Learning & Engagement, I worked with the departments overseeing housing, orientation, Greek Life, student organizations, living-learning communities, faculty-in-residence, the Student Union, all-campus programs, spirit & traditions (including the live bears and an accredited zoo on campus and the oldest Homecoming in the nation,) a ~2,000 seat performance venue, $200M in residence hall construction and renovations, and a 200-student academic minor in leadership.

My last 2.5 years at Baylor, I shifted to the Provost’s Office where I served in Institutional Effectiveness. My focus was the >60 administrative departments at the university my focus was to help them plan, act, assess, and improve over time. I facilitated Baylor’s 5th Year Report for our accreditation with SACS. While at Baylor I was invited to participate in 7 other universities’ institutional accreditation reviews.

Since January 2022, I have been working in several roles. The first is as a Consulting Advisor for Higher Talent Executive Search, where my recent searches have included a students affairs university leader, a vice president for a political organization focused on uniting the left and right, and a leader in human resources at a Catholic diocese. Another role is as a dissertation chair and reader for multiple Liberty University doctoral students and a third role has been serving as a career coach for many of the Baylor students and staff I was blessed to get to know while teaching and working there. In summer, 2022, I also taught an ethics and equity focused graduate course in leadership at Texas Christian University. Starting in 2023, I began working with a company called InGenius Prep, which assists high school students interested in admission to one of the top 50 colleges in the U.S. My role is to be an admissions coach; helping them make wise choices in high school that open the door to top colleges their senior year.

My story is not yet over, and I am excited to share upcoming steps. The content on this website and my Linked Profile share many other things I care about, am learning about, and want to share and discuss with others.