George Washington University Provost Forrest Maltzman announced the creation of a new organizational structure and approach, to be launched this summer, which will provide a cohesive experience throughout all phases of the student lifecycle, from the admissions and enrollment process, through graduation and beyond.
The new unit, to be named Enrollment and the Student Experience (ESE), is a result of President Thomas LeBlanc’s call to improve the undergraduate student experience, one of his five key areas of focus as he begins his presidency. Dr. Maltzman has asked Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Retention Laurie Koehler to lead the formation of the new team.
ESE will leverage the strengths and experience of the current Division of Student Affairs (DSA) and the Enrollment Management and Retention (EM&R) Division to support a more connected, comprehensive and student-centered approach to the student experience and integrate the academic experience with student life beyond the classroom.
Ms. Koehler will lead the new unit as senior vice provost for enrollment and the student experience. During the spring semester, Ms. Koehler also will spearhead the search for a new position, dean of the student experience.
“We are committed to ensuring a positive, holistic and seamless experience for students from the moment they apply for admissions until they graduate and transition into alumni status,” Dr. Maltzman said. “To take concrete steps toward this ambitious goal, we have decided to create a unified team that fosters a culture of collaboration in order to provide opportunities for every student to achieve academic success, personal growth and professional aspirations.”
Dr. Maltzman emphasized that this will be a new entity created expressly for the purpose of building and supporting an exemplary student experience. It is not a merger of existing departments and divisions, but rather an opportunity to create new approaches and best practices and strengthen partnerships and processes.
To ensure the least disruption possible, the official transition to new leadership and structure will take place in summer 2018. In the meantime, DSA will continue to report to Deputy Provost Teresa Murphy.
Dr. Maltzman said that Ms. Koehler will spend the spring semester conducting an organizational review and assessment of EM&R and DSA to determine the best path forward. This will include interviews and focus groups with students, faculty and staff to gather input and review relevant and available data. This process will begin in early February.
“We have a unique opportunity to enhance the student experience at George Washington, and I appreciate the support of President LeBlanc and Provost Maltzman as we begin this comprehensive effort,” Ms. Koehler said. “I am excited to get started and to hear from our students, staff and faculty how we can best support our students and contribute to their success throughout their time at GW and beyond.”
At the same time, Ms. Koehler will lead a national search this spring for a re-envisioned position, dean of the student experience, with an anticipated start date before the next academic year. This leader, who will report directly to Ms. Koehler, will manage the student experience and will identify areas of collaboration within this new team as well as with colleagues throughout the university. A profile of the ideal candidate and comprehensive job description will be developed with significant input from the GW community, and a search committee will be announced in early February.
Dr. Maltzman emphasized that the search will be an inclusive process. Student voices will be critical in the identification of a new dean of the student experience. The search committee will include staff, faculty and current GW students. In addition, a student consultative committee consisting of 15-20 students will be formed to meet confidentially with the finalists when they are brought to campus later this spring and to provide feedback to Ms. Koehler and the search committee.
“While we know that confidentiality is critical in these types of searches to attract top candidates, we also believe that involving more students in the process is necessary for the best possible outcome,” Dr. Maltzman said.
Dr. Maltzman said that Ms. Koehler is uniquely qualified and positioned to take on this important initiative.
“Over the past four years, Laurie has demonstrated an ability to think about the arc of the entire student experience and its impact on student success and retention. She has built a strong and effective leadership team with an approach to enrollment and retention that is collaborative, service-oriented and informed by robust inquiry. She is a highly-respected institutional leader and a thoughtful partner,” Dr. Maltzman said.
Student Association Peak Sen Chua welcomed the announcement, noting "this is an opportunity to positively shift the institutional culture of the university towards enhancing the student experience and promoting a culture of service.”
“We look forward to working with Provost Maltzman and Vice Provost Laurie Koehler to actively engage students in decision-making during the search process for the new dean of the student experience."