Program Details for NSSR18

The National Symposium on Student Retention will take place Monday, November 5 through Thursday, November 8 at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Download our Interactive Conference Program or search ‘NSSR 2018’ on the Guidebook app for iOS or Android to find details on the NSSR schedule, speakers, maps, and more. Guidebook also provides multiple ways to coordinate and interact with other conference attendees.


Aerial View of University of Utah. Photo Credit: Adam Barker

Salt Lake Valley view from Ensign Peak, city lights and mountains. Photo Credit: Steve Greenwood

Sunday, November 4, 2018


Monday, November 5, 2018
  • 7:00 am – 6:00 pm
    On-site Registration
  • 7:15 am – 8:30 am
    Morning Refreshments
  • 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
    Pre-conference Workshops (additional fees required)
  • 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
    Welcome Reception


Tuesday, November 6, 2018
  • 7:00 am – 4:45 pm
    On-site Registration
  • 7:15 am – 8:15 am
    Morning Refreshments
  • 8:15 am – 9:45 am
    Plenary Session – with Sanford “Sandy” Shugart
  • 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
    Concurrent Sessions
  • 11:00 am – 11:45 am
    Exhibitor Visits
  • 11:45 am – 1:15 pm
    Lunch on your own
  • 1:15 pm – 3:45 pm
    Concurrent Sessions


Wednesday, November 7, 2018
  • 7:00 am – 4:45 pm
    On-site Registration
  • 7:15 am – 8:15 am
    Morning Refreshments
  • 8:15 am – 9:45 am
    Plenary Session – with Joe Cuseo
  • 10:00 am – 12:15 pm
    Concurrent Sessions
  • 12:15 pm – 1:45 pm
    Lunch on your own
  • 1:45 pm – 3:15
    Roundtable Discussions
  • 3:45 pm – 4:45 pm
    Concurrent Sessions


Thursday, November 8, 2018
  • 8:15 am – 9:30 am
    Best Practices Awards Breakfast
  • 9:30 am – 3:00 pm
    On-site Registration
  • 9:45 am – 11:15 am
    Poster Session
  • 11:15 pm – 12:45 pm
    Lunch on your own
  • 12:45 pm – 3:00
    Concurrent Sessions

Sunday – SLC Day of Culture!

Plan to arrive early and join us for a day of fun and culture in Salt Lake City. We’ll begin by riding the light rail to Temple Square and attending a live performance of Music and the Spoken Word, featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Afterwards, we’ll take a bus to the Natural History Museum of Utah on the University of Utah campus. We will enjoy a short guided tour, then you will be free to explore the exhibits on your own.

The cost for this outing is $45 per person, which includes activities and transportation. Lunch will be on your own at the museum. We will meet around 8:15 am in the hotel lobby and will return by 2:30 pm. Pre-registration is required.

Sunday Dinner Groups

If you don’t already have plans, let’s get together for dinner. We’ll meet in the hotel lobby at 6:30 pm and take a short ride on the light rail to Trolley Square. Once there we will break into groups depending on what you want to eat. We’re organizing, but each person handles their own tab and light rail fee.

No reservations necessary.

Monday Evening Welcome Reception

Please join us for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on Monday evening in the Mezzanine after the pre-conference workshops. Relax and get to know your colleagues or reconnect with the ones you met last year at NSSR17. The welcome reception is open to everyone and is included with your conference registration. You are welcome to bring guests, please see the registration page for cost. Cash bar.

Concurrent Sessions

Tuesday through Thursday authors of peer-reviewed papers will present on topics important to higher education professionals. A few of these include:

    • First-generation college students
    • Predicting academic success
    • Academic Advising
    • At-risk students
    • Peer mentoring

Roundtable Discussions

Wednesday afternoon we will spend time in small groups discussing issues in-depth with colleagues from diverse institutions and positions on campus. Some topics include:

  • Success seminars and first-generation students
  • Effects of academic policies on student behavior
  • Campus partnerships
  • Using change leadership to implement retention initiatives

Poster Session

Join us after the awards breakfast on Thursday to visit with poster presenters about their research and strategies for helping their students succeed. The exhibit hall format offers a great opportunity for networking with your colleagues.

Keynote Speakers

Tuesday Keynote – Dr. Sanford “Sandy” Shugart
Dr. Sanford Shugart, President, Valencia College

Dr. Sanford “Sandy” Shugart has served since 2000 as the fourth president of Valencia College in greater Orlando, Florida. As winner of the first Aspen Prize for Excellence, Valencia is one of the most celebrated community colleges in America. Serving some 70,000 students per year, Valencia is known for high rates of graduation, transfer, and job placement and has become something of a national laboratory for best practices in learning-centered education. Prior to Valencia, Sandy served as president of North Harris College and as Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of the North Carolina Community College System. In 2015, he was named by Washington Monthly magazine as one of the ten most innovative college and university presidents in America. He earned his Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to his career in education, Dr. Shugart is a published poet, musician, and songwriter and author of Leadership in the Crucible of Work: Discovering the Interior Life of an Authentic Leader. In addition to his keynote speech, Dr. Shugart will also host a session based on the topics covered in his book on Tuesday, November 6th from 1:15-2:15.

Building an Education Ecosystem: The Power of Better College Transfer Practices to Lead Students to Better Futures

Although policies and systems of college transfer have existed for half a century in the U.S., they have often failed to produce successful experiences for students. Increased stop-outs and drop-outs, lost momentum and credit, excess credit hour accumulation, disparate impact on students of different backgrounds, and poor completion rates are some of the consequences. There are powerful examples, however, of systems that work for students, for sending institutions, and for receiving institutions, yielding dramatic improvements. Using a case study from central Florida, we will explore principles and practices that can elevate performance in transfer and bolster the promise of opportunity on which our systems of education were founded.


“This is my favorite conference each year.”

-Jared Tippets, Vice President for Student Affairs, Southern Utah University
Wednesday Keynote – Dr. Joe Cuseo
Dr. Joe Cuseo, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Iowa

Joe Cuseo holds a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology and Assessment from the University of Iowa and is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Marymount California University. He’s a 14-time recipient of the “faculty member of the year award” on his home campus—a student-driven award based on effective teaching and academic advising, a recipient of the “Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award” from the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, and a recipient of the “Diamond Honoree Award” from the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) for contributions made to student development and the Student Affairs profession. Currently, Joe serves as a workshop facilitator and educational consultant for colleges and universities, including AVID for Higher Education—a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the college access and success of underserved student populations. He has delivered hundreds of campus workshops and conference presentations across North America, as well as Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. He has authored numerous articles and books on student learning, student retention, and faculty development, the most recent of which are: Student-Faculty Engagement: Research & Practice; Thriving in College and Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success & Personal Development; Humanity, Diversity, & The Liberal Arts: The Foundation of a College Education; and Peer-to-Peer Leadership: Research-Based Strategies for Peer Mentors & Peer Educators.

Student Retention and Student Learning: A Natural Marriage

Student retention and student learning are inextricably intertwined processes. Research strongly suggests that practices which promote student persistence to graduation are the very practices that promote student learning and academic achievement. As retention scholars have often put it, “Successful retention is a byproduct of successful education.” Research suggests there are timeless, universal principles that underlie student motivation, learning, and persistence. This presentation will identify seven of these principles along with effective practices for implementing them. The seven principles may be used by faculty and professional staff to build a student-centered campus culture unified by a common language and equipped with common practices for promoting student success, both inside and outside the classroom.

Pre-conference Workshops  Monday, November 5 – Optional, with an additional fee

Full-day Workshops  8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Why do some universities make rapid gains in student success, while the nation as a whole is making slow progress? Wayne State University in Detroit recently posted a 21 percentage point gain in graduation rate over six years, making them one of the fastest improving universities in the nation. This workshop introduces the Student Success Maturity Model which is a tool to build capacity for student success. The workshop will help you and your institution to move beyond pilots, initiatives, and “best practices” to foster enduring change and institutional resilience. The tools acquired here will make it easier for all of our students to learn and thrive in college and to graduate in a timely manner well prepared for life. Workshop activities will include a self-assessment, using the ideas of student success maturity to enhance the implementation of student success strategies at the participants’ home institutions.

  • Understand the concept of maturity as a measurement of the ability of an organization for continuous improvement in a particular discipline
  • Understand key terminology of maturity models, including capacity, performed, managed, defined, measured, and optimized, and their applications to higher education and student success
  • Understand key aspects of the Student Success Maturity Model and how they relate to higher education practices and organization, change leadership, and “best practices” in student success
  • Understand key domains and capacities for student success
  • Conduct a self-assessment of student success maturity at their own institution using the Student Success Maturity Model
  • Identify key capacities that have the potential to accelerate progress in their own student success initiatives
  • Identify priority areas for adopting (or adapting) “best practices” in student success
  • Gain knowledge to improve their own institution’s capacity for change and growth



Monica Brockmeyer, Ph.D., Wayne State University – Dr. Brockmeyer is Associate Provost for Student Success at Wayne State University (WSU) in Detroit, MI, where she has led the university in increasing their graduation rate by more than 21 percentage points over the past six years. During that time, the university has overhauled the entire student experience, including academic advising, academic support programs, general education, use of technology and data, and more. She also holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Michigan and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at WSU. She is an experienced presenter, educator, facilitator, trainer, and coach.

Darin Ellis, Ph.D., Wayne State University – Dr. Ellis has served as Associate Provost for Academic Programs and Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness at Wayne State University since 2016. Prior to that he was Associate Dean in the College of Engineering for six years. Drawing on his background as Professor of Industrial Engineering, Darin brings a combination of expertise in analytics and human-centered design to bear on academic program and policy matters, to promote measurable and sustainable improvement in outcomes. He chairs numerous high-profile committees at WSU with an action-oriented and collaborative leadership style.

Students who have unsuccessful struggles with academic or life challenges lead to attrition because of inherent risk factors, while students who are strongly motivated, have strong learning and problem-solving skills and have developed grit prevail. These collegiate learners instead of merely surviving, learn better, grow faster, solve learning and life challenges, and go on to graduate in much higher percentages. Key characteristics of these students include learner ownership, growth mindset, emotional intelligence and a strong life vision along with learning skills of academic reading, writing to think, using a learning process, critical thinking, problem-solving, managing time, and self-assessing. This workshop lays the foundation for an institution to foster these skills and attitudes as part of their general education and retention strategies. Methodologies, readings, hands-on practice, and discussion in an active learning environment ensures participants walk away with the emotional and intellectual understanding to teach learning-to-learn and self-growth. (bring your laptop)

  • Develop a growth mindset – experience that all people have unlimited potential to learn and improve
  • Appreciate the self-motivational power of a personal life-vision for all students and its impact on retention and persistence
  • Measure 50 learner characteristics to build individual students’ personal development plan; visualize the level of your students on entry, after their first year, and at graduation
  • Use the assessment methodology, distinguish assessment-for-improvement from evaluation-for-judgment, to foster an assessment-mindset to sustain a growth culture among students and faculty
  • Apply the theory of performance within assessment to measure, analyze, and plan improvements
  • Use the Learning Process Methodology to accelerate and elevate learning
  • Use the reading-for-learning methodology to improve learning performance when reading, step by step; students significantly improve their reading speed while learning
  • Learn to write to think versus thinking to write; this mindset accelerates writing, thinking, reflecting and learning, causing students to communicate better and improve their speed capturing their thoughts on paper with greater clarity
  • Create critical thinking questions to support one’s own learning, elevate answers, and understand the critical nature of CTQs for integrating learning with existing knowledge
  • Analyze past failures, develop solutions, plan improvements; draft a presentation on why learning-to-learn improves retention and how it could be implemented for the attendees’ institution



Daniel Apple, Ph.D., Academy of Process Educators – Dr. Apple is a founding member of the Academy of Process Educators and president of Pacific Crest, an educational consulting firm, since 1985. Process Education is an educational philosophy focusing on helping learners develop broad, transferable learning skills that empower them to continually improve their ability to learn and grow. Dan has led 1,000+ faculty development events with 25,000+ faculty. Aimed at improving quality educational outcomes in higher education, these events help faculty facilitate learning to learn and self-growth; build process-oriented curriculum and conduct assessment at the course and program levels.

David Leasure, Ph.D., Academy of Process Educators- Dr. Leasure is Research Director at the Academy of Process Educators, an innovator in higher education, problem-based learning and competency-based education. David has served as provost at Western Governors University, Colorado Technical University and Jones International University. Including experience at AT&T Bell Labs and associate professor of computer science at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, David firmly believes all students can learn and has made it his personal mission to help 10M learners and 1M faculty advance their learning and success skills. He is co-author of The Professional’s Guide to Self-Growth.

In a world where teachers have literally millions of resources at their fingertips and less and less premium is placed on strictly “basal based” curricula, it is imperative that teachers have a stronger pedagogical foundation than ever before. This workshop will focus on two key components: The Four Responsibilities of a Teacher and The Three Responsibilities of a Student. Each model is a research-based continuum designed to produce consistent and congruent curricula and to operationalize many of the intuitive or instinctual processes to which not all teachers or students have direct access. The workshop is highly interactive with a great deal of resources, activities, and opportunities for engagement. In many ways, this workshop could be viewed as a more practical and condensed version of a compulsory Philosophy/Psychology of Education course many of us took before we had the requisite experience to truly appreciate the content.

  • Participants will examine and articulate their core philosophic beliefs
  • Participants will identify instructional techniques that are congruent with their philosophical beliefs
  • Participants will identify appropriate assessment activities that are congruent with their instructional choices
  • Participants will evaluate the entire process, including instances where the continuum failed, possibly even challenging some of their original philosophic beliefs.



Michael Morsches, Moraine Valley Community College – Michael has more than thirty years in higher education and international development. He has taught graduate courses in education and has led hundreds of workshops and presentations on teacher development in the U.S., Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Michael has facilitated SoTaL (the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) workshops for teachers in developing countries and has presented related concepts at national and international conferences. Currently, he serves as Dean of Learning Enrichment and College Readiness at Moraine Valley Community College, where he oversees ESL, ABE, Developmental Education, Tutoring, and Basic Literacy.

Grant Matthews, Lane Community College – Grant has worked and taught at community colleges in Oregon and Illinois for over 16 years in both academic programs and student services. Much of his work focuses on student development inside and outside of the classroom and how programs can improve the connections between student services and classroom learning through shared learning outcomes and consistency. Currently, Grant serves as Dean of The Center for Learning Advancement and Interim Dean for Health Professions at Lane Community College, where he oversees ABSE, Developmental Education, Career Pathways, Nursing and Allied Health, and Physical Education.

Patrick Lohan, Moraine Valley Community College – Patrick has worked at Moraine Valley Community College for 18 years working with at-risk students to aide their transition from noncredit courses to credit courses. His work focuses on contextualized bridge programming for adult General Education (GED) and English as a Second Language (ESL) students. Patrick currently works as an Education Specialist providing pathways for students to transition into credited college courses.

Morning Workshops  8:00 am – 11:30 pm

Commonly held wisdom states that college students don’t read email, don’t know things they “should”, and don’t take steps to promote their own success. However, when developing outreach and interventions it is necessary to consider higher education from the perspective of a non-expert: your average college student. Research shows deficits in college readiness include missing skills in self-regulation, help-seeking, and navigating bureaucracy. These deficits coupled with unrealistic University expectations can negatively impact student use of supports, successful outreach and the success of students. This workshop will guide participants through a process of self-evaluation that focuses on how you direct student actions including identifying what you expect your students “should” know and deciding if these assumptions are reasonable; then using this self-assessment to make changes in communication, outreach and process. Through this workshop participants will identify challenges for their campus and identify options to modify current practice based on best practice and research.

  • Understand recent best-practice research around student readiness, outreach planning and increasing student responsiveness
  • Learn a process for identifying barriers to student use of assistance, completing processes and needed tasks
  • Review communication options for faculty, staff and administrative offices to lead to increased student response and identify possible areas to focus on once returning to campus
  • Connect communication and outreach options to needed tasks to begin identifying preferred and practical methods for their campus
  • Engage in collaboration and brainstorming to identify common concerns across campuses, new methodologies, best practice and possible solutions



Linda Refsland, William Paterson University – Ms. Refsland is the Executive Director for Academic Success Services at William Paterson University overseeing summer academic development programs, academic supports for students in academic jeopardy, developmental education, and other academic outreach. A large part of her role is devoted to proactive student outreach and support. Her graduate degrees are in Counseling Psychology and she has worked with high need youth and students in a variety of settings for over 20 years. Linda has spoken at national and regional conferences and committees including leading pre-conference workshops and sessions at NSSR.

Increased public skepticism about the value of a college degree, a price tag that challenges many, and administrators who mislead their schools adds to the well documented factors that reduce students’ willingness to stay in school and meet academic demands. This interactive session explores the potential role of leaders as catalysts for fostering meaningful improvements in students’ retention and success. Bringing about meaningful and lasting improvements requires rethinking ways to use university resources and involve colleagues. Participants will learn to apply Bolman and Deal’s four frames as an approach for reimagining leadership practices. Through practical exercises participates will cultivate the resolve to address ongoing student retention challenges. Participants will grapple with the new expectations of leaders and emerge with concrete ideas about how to return to their institutions energized to tackle retention with a new lens.

  • Recognize why a new leadership paradigm is mandated now
  • Develop strategies for engaging your community in student retention improvements
  • Create a list of specific steps that you can take to increase your leadership effectiveness
  • Expand your network with colleagues facing similar retention challenges



Jeffrey Anderson, Ph.D., Jack Welch Management Institute – Dr. Anderson is an associate professor at the Jack Welch Management Institute where he teaches Business Analytics and the Capstone Course in the MBA program. For several years Jeffrey led student success efforts at a private, not-for-profit university in Florida. During that time he had the opportunity to lead successful efforts of building predictive models of student persistence, evaluating the effects of targeted scholarships on first-to-second year attrition, and implementing early-alert systems and practices.

Linda Moran, Ed.D., University of Hartford – Dr. Moran is the Director of the Student Study Center at Hillyer College, and Chair of Academic Strategies at University of Hartford. For the past four years, she has won grants to support the development of the Summer Bridge Program that prepares incoming freshmen with student skills. Through the Bridge program she has introduced high-impact practices, such as service learning, to teach leadership practices to at-risk students. Linda has co-authored four books on teams, including Self-Directed Work Teams: The New American Challenge. She also co-edited the book, Beyond Teams: Building the Collaborative Organization.

You have just been named coordinator of student retention at your institution—now what? This session on learning the keys to retention success is back by popular demand. Discover retention strategies that get results at two-year and four-year institutions and learn the best ways to plan for programs by laying the groundwork for success and gaining faculty support.

  • Participants will develop a relevant definition for retention
  • Participants will develop an understanding of a Student Success Relationship Management Model™ and begin to establish an application to their home campuses
  • Participants will develop an understanding of the principles for retention planning
  • Participants’ interests will provide for special topics discussion



Tim Culver, Ph.D., Ruffalo Noel Levitz – Tim leads the retention consulting and predictive analytics for student success services of Ruffalo Noel Levitz, offering counsel to help institutions develop, implement, and evaluate plans for improving student success, persistence, retention, and degree completion rates. He has expertise in a wide range of areas of retention management, including but not limited to retention planning, academic advising, Title III and Title V grants, developmental education, academic support and development of multiple strategies designed to impact retention. Dr. Culver has consulted with more than 50 four-year and two-year institutions both public and private.

Afternoon Workshops  1:00 – 4:30 pm

In 2015, the presenters inherited a campus that had experienced five years of declining retention rates and were charged with turning things around. The good people on our campus had been trying everything outlined in the literature but just hadn’t seen the results and benefits of these best practices. So, our retention team went back to the drawing board and started over. From this exercise we developed and implemented our homegrown and cost-efficient ‘ASCEND’ model (Affordability; Support; Culture; Engagement; Nudges, Data). The result? Not only did we reverse the sliding trend, but saw a 7% bump in retention rates. In this presentation we will highlight our experience of developing the ASCEND model and will walk attendees through creative, innovative, and cost-effective strategies to immediately improve their retention rates. We will outline how each campus can ASCEND to higher retention rates by focusing on affordability, support, culture, engagement, nudges, and data.

  • Learn strategies for increasing retention rates on campus
  • Learn how to shift a campus culture and get all offices involved in this effort
  • Reflect on how these ideas might be implemented on their campus



Jared Tippets, Ph.D., Southern Utah University – Dr. Tippets currently serves as Vice President for Student Affairs at Southern Utah University. His professional career has been spent focusing on retention, completion, and student success efforts as well as organizational change on both the academic affairs and student affairs side of the academy. Prior to SUU he worked at Purdue University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Utah Valley University. Dr. Tippets holds a B.S. in Management Information Systems (Utah State University), a M.A. in Higher Education Administration (University of Missouri-Columbia), and a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Organizational Leadership (University of Kentucky).

Eric Kirby, Ph.D., Southern Utah University – Dr. Kirby currently serves as Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (Completion and Student Success) at Southern Utah University. In this role, he leads important campus retention, completion, and student success initiatives, as well as oversees a number of units on campus directly related to this effort. Dr. Kirby holds a B.A. in Political Science (Southern Utah University), a M.S. in Administration (University of Denver), J.D. in Law (University of Denver), and a Ph.D. in Global Leadership and Academic Administration (Indiana Tech). Prior to working in higher education, Dr. Kirby practiced law for nearly a decade.

Conversations with students in focus groups allow us to dig into the mechanisms behind the patterns we see in quantitative assessment data. They can also help us gather new evidence and answer questions with more detail and nuance than we might get from a survey. Through group discussion and planning packets, workshop participants will learn the benefits of this approach, how to create such a program, and the types of projects students can assist with—all without needing outside vendors or resources. Multiple worksheets will be used and made available so attendees can leave prepared to conduct their first on-campus focus groups as soon as they wish after attending.


The objectives of this workshop are to demonstrate how student-led insight efforts can:

  • Improve retention rates by emphasizing a High Impact Practice that bonds students with campus early in their career
  • Better leverage available data to improve effectiveness in areas across campus
  • Equip undergraduate students with research skills applicable to various graduate degree fields and career ventures, including survey design, sampling, focus groups, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and data presentation
  • Conduct detailed studies on areas of importance and focus for the institution and demonstrate the importance of student feedback and ideas to the institution through public presentations of studies



Will Miller, Ph.D., Campus Labs – As Assistant Vice President, Campus Adoption, Will Miller, an unabashed data wonk, and leverages data best practices to help campuses make strategic decisions. He joined the Campus Labs team in late 2016, after serving as a faculty member and senior administrator at Flagler College in Florida. There, as Executive Director of Institutional Analytics, Effectiveness, and Planning, he helped transform the campus-wide outcomes assessment process. Further, he played a pivotal role in transitioning the campus to data-informed strategic enrollment management. He also served as Accreditation Liaison to the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).

Pop Pedagogy involves integrating aspects of popular culture into the classroom to make the curriculum more relevant and engaging. This workshop highlights proven strategies and techniques that are immediately applicable within the classroom. Facilitators will provide participants with the theoretical foundation and science behind pop pedagogy and will demystify the process of effectively implementing pop culture into the classroom. The workshop is divided into three sections: Principles of Pop Pedagogy, My Pop Pedagogy Personality, and The Infusion. Participants will apply the concepts learned to one of their current lesson plans or further develop course material based on the information presented. Facilitators will work with small groups to help them brainstorm possibilities for their particular class. Participants are encouraged to bring a class syllabus or lesson plan they would like to revise.

  • Learn the primary principles/standards of pop pedagogy
  • Produce a Pop Map of an interactive presentation
  • Complete a personal assessment identifying those elements the faculty member would be most comfortable implementing
  • Brainstorm ideas and identify methods that can be easily implemented within their own classrooms
  • Revamp or create one planned class session through the application of pop pedagogy principles



Amber R. Smith, Ph.D., University of Arkansas at Little Rock – A journey through education and the performing arts coupled with stories of personal struggle and success provide a unique spin to Dr. Smith’s presentation delivery. Through interactive, multimedia driven workshops focused on intimacy, leadership, and success, she has motivated over 750,000 people nationwide to design their own destinies. She currently serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she oversees departments focused on student experience and leadership development. Dr. Smith holds a bachelor’s in Liberal Arts, a master’s in College Student Affairs, and a PhD in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology.

Mia D. M. Phillips, Ed.D., University of Arkansas at Little Rock – Dr. Phillips is the Communications and Special Projects Coordinator in the Office of the Chancellor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her experience navigating large projects involving multiple stakeholders and advocating for underrepresented populations, has provided a refined lens through which to identify gaps between traditional approaches and the needs of today’s student. She has received high accolades from students for her creative approach to Composition curricula wherein she fused social media and music. Dr. Mia Phillips holds a bachelor’s in Writing, a master’s in Professional and Technical Writing, and an EdD in Higher Education Administration.