(From left) OAR Director Kelly Wilcox, Postgraduate Intern Candace Jordan ’12 and Assistant Director Lionel Anderson.
New Office of Academic Resources Opens Fall 2012
When students return to campus this fall there will be a new office and three new employees dedicated to building on the existing academic resources on campus and ensuring that all Fords achieve excellence during their college careers. The new Office of Academic Resources (OAR), located on the first floor of Stokes, will be run by Director Kelly Wilcox, Assistant Director Lionel Anderson and part-time Postgraduate Intern Candace Jordan ’12.
“We are hoping to create a student-centered hub for the amazing resources that are already available,” says Wilcox of this new endeavor. “Our job is to recognize what is already working really well and to partner with those programs, so that students see them as accessible and relevant to their experience and interests. But we also plan to go beyond that, to help students see what their next step is or what their definition of success is and to help them achieve that by creating targeted programming, providing individual coaching sessions and by connecting them to resources on or off campus. We want to help them think about themselves through a variety of lenses—as curious scholars, young professionals, or potential fellowship- or prize-winners, and to start thinking about the competencies that will help them write a really strong capstone project early on, for example.”
Wilcox comes to Haverford from New York University Abu Dhabi, where she was the associate dean for student learning resources and the first-year dean. Prior to that, she worked for 10 years at Swarthmore College in the dean’s office and in athletics. While running the OAR, she will be finishing her dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania in higher education administration.
Anderson joins the OAR staff after a five-year stint advising and teaching undergraduate business students at the Fox School of Business at Temple University. Prior to that, he worked in residential life at the University of Pennsylvania while working on his masters in higher education administration.
“I’m drawn to this work because I, like I’m sure many of the students I’ll meet at Haverford, was a capable student, but I shied away from the idea of accessing academic resources,” says Anderson. “I think I was told all the time in high school how smart I was, but was never preached hard work… and my smartness didn’t carry me very far in my first couple of semesters in college. So I’m drawn to this idea of getting students to buy into the idea of availing themselves to these resources so that they can see gains and experience a smoother transition from underclassmen to upperclassmen.”
Jordan joined the OAR earlier this summer to facilitate the first class of the John P. Chesick Scholars, a pre-college program administered by the OAR for 15 entering freshmen from underrepresented or under-resourced backgrounds, and who are, in many cases, the first in their family to attend college. “It’s mostly a way to introduce them to college-level work and the academic resources available at Haverford before they arrive on campus in the fall to allow them to hit the ground running,” she says. Jordan lived with the Chesick Scholars as their resident director in Lloyd Hall for the duration of their five-week program.
“They are my dream team,” says Associate Dean and Dean of Academic Affairs Phil Bean, of the new OAR staff. “Each brings an enviable set of skills and experiences directly relevant to the creation of a model office of this sort… I could not have asked for a group of young leaders better suited to build a new suite of academic resources befitting Haverford’s legitimately high expectations.”
Though it is a new office, “OAR” is a familiar acronym on campus. For more than a decade, however, it was, for lack of funding, little more than a website maintained by Bean that listed academic, health and counseling resources for proactive students. But now, thanks to the generosity of the San Francisco Foundation, the OAR will be not only a physical space in Stokes, but also a cultivator of cutting-edge programming and a central resource for helping each Ford make the most of his or her Haverford academic experience.
Working in conjunction with Dean Bean, who has served as the College’s principal fellowships advisor for the past decade, the OAR will help qualified students identify and determine the best strategies for pursuing fellowships and scholarships, such as the Fulbright or Rhodes. The OAR is partnering with the Writing Center, which will now be based in the OAR offices in Stokes, and is collaborating with Magill Library, the Career Development Office, Counseling and Psychological Services, and Student Health Services on upcoming workshops. It will also have strategic partnerships with the Office of Disabilities Services and the bi-co Education Program. Strengthening the peer-tutoring program is another goal.
The new OAR staff are all quick to note that the office is not just for those who need extra help adjusting to or thriving in college life: it is meant to serve everyone. “We want to serve and enrich all students, irrespective of their discipline, their academic performance or their academic interests,” says Anderson.
The OAR staff is planning an open house for early in the fall semester and they encourage students to check their new website often, as they will be introducing new programming all the time.
“Even if you don’t have a specific question or you’re not exactly sure why you would come by the OAR, please come by anyway,” encourages Wilcox. “We want to hear your thoughts about what is working well at Haverford and how we need to strengthen and grow.”