College Transition Specialist position created to increase support for students

The new College Transition Specialist position was created in response to a list of concerns from marginalized students sent to President Byerly in fall 2016. Photo by Irwin Frimpong ’21

In response to a list of concerns from marginalized students on Lafayette’s campus and the resulting student support task force, the college has established the new position of “College Transition Specialist.”

The creation of this new position was spearheaded by Dean Erica D’Agostino who, after extensive research into the support systems of other colleges, felt it would be beneficial to the Lafayette community.

“We had a number of different requests in different areas and we felt this was really important as a way of providing capacity to really think carefully about student transitions,” Byerly said.

“A lot of offices are already involved in that work, but we think having someone really heading up that effort and thinking about how to develop programming that will continue to support students once they arrive and kind of passing from the admissions process into the entry process will be helpful,” she added.

The list of “diversity and transformation concerns of marginalized students” was sent to Byerly in fall 2016. Within this list were student-made solutions to facilitate the further diversification of the student body. The students called for such measures as: the creation of a mentoring program for transitioning students, additional staff in the Division of Campus Life that deals specifically with offering support to low-income students and additional staff in academic departments to help underrepresented students.

The College Transition Specialist will serve as “a valuable member of the academic support staff who oversees the development and delivery of programs and resources geared towards students in transition (particularly first-year and transfer students),” according to the job posting on Lafayette’s website.

The College Transition Specialist will work to identify students who will likely need support when they transition to campus and formulate programs to help those students. This work includes, but is not limited to, collaborating with student advisors to assist in the transitioning of students, taking the lead as head of the PARDner peer advising system in place for first-years, as well as playing an integral role in the New Student Orientation Committee.

I think [the new position] will combine development of maybe some additional summer bridge programming to supplement what we currently offer and then thinking about whether there are programs specific to groups of students like first generation students or international students,” Byerly added.

This new specialist will work primarily in the Advising Office in Scott Hall but will also work closely with the Office of Intercultural Development, Admissions & Financial Aid, Student Leadership & Involvement, class deans, the Academic Resource Hub and many other offices, according to D’Agostino.

While the hiring process for the position is still underway, the first round of interviews for the position were set to take place this past week. D’Agostino predicts that someone will be hired for the position by the end of September, and will hopefully be able to start spring 2018.

“Students will, undoubtedly, be asked to participate in meetings with the finalists so anyone interested in this new position can feel free to reach out to me if they’d like to be involved in the interviews,” D’Agostino added.

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