Upcoming Event

Assessment from a Vice President’s Point of View

Thursday, February 14th | 1:00PM EST

To register for this webinar, please click here!

Join us for a one-hour webinar panel discussion with three Vice President’s for Student Affairs presented by ACPA’s Commission for Assessment and Evaluation. This webinar will feature Dr. Zebulun Davenport, Vice President for Student Affairs at West Chester University, Dr. Cathy Akens, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and Dr. Laura Bayless, Vice President for Student Affairs at Fitchburg State University. This discussion will be moderated by Dr. Allison Kanny, Assistant Director for Assessment and Strategic Initiatives in Student Affairs at Southern Methodist University.

This webinar will provide participants with the opportunity to hear from and engage with the three panelist in discussing their perspective of the role of assessment in Student Affairs, creating a culture of assessment, and how assessment professionals can work in tandem to support their Vice President’s for Student Affairs.

Featured Panelists:

Dr. Zebulun Davenport is the Vice President for Student Affairs at West Chester University.  He provides leadership to multiple units that positively impact students’ lives on campus.  Dr. Davenport earned a Doctorate in Higher Education and Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, a Master’s of Education in College Student Personnel Administration, and a Bachelor of Science in Communications/Public Relations with a minor in Human Services from James Madison University.

Dr. Davenport’s primary goal is student success.  His contributions have advanced campus culture, organizational structure, and student achievement. Dr. Davenport is a leader and strategist who demonstrates care and concern while maximizing opportunities for all involved.  His expertise includes the areas of student retention; student learning outcomes; assessment; strategic planning; and strategies for assisting first generation college students.

Regarded for his work in the aforementioned areas, he is co-creator of the Changing Institutional Retention through Co-Curricular Learning Experiences (CIRCLE) Model which engages and links co-curricular service providers in academic and student affairs in a systemic collegial process of institution-wide service delivery.  In 2011, NASPA distinguished the model as first place winner of the Gold Excellence Award recognizing contributions of members who are transforming higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services, and effective administration.

Dr. Davenport’s publications include co-authoring a book entitled  First-Generation College Students – Understanding and Improving the Experience from Recruitment to Commencement; a chapter in an edited volume entitled The Student Success Conundrum, in B. Bontrager (Ed.) Strategic Enrollment Management: Transforming Higher Education; and a chapter in an edited monograph entitled Creating Collaborative Conditions for Student Success in S. Whalen (Ed.) Proceedings of the 8th National Symposium on Student Retention 2012.  He has presented at workshops for numerous public agencies; educational institutions; state, regional, and national conferences; as well as to thousands of college students and professionals throughout his career. 

Dr. Cathy Akens is the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UNC Greensboro, a role she has held since January 2018. In this role, she provides leadership for staff who oversee a wide array of programs and services that focus on impacting student success and learning through the co-curricular experience.

Before joining UNCG, Dr. Akens worked at Florida International University, where she served as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Assistant Vice President, and Director of Residential Life. She held other positions in residential life at both FIU and Bowling Green State University. At FIU Dr. Akens served as Associate Professor and the Division’s liaison to the Higher Education graduate program.

Dr. Akens has regularly taught graduate courses in the areas of student development, campus crisis management and contemporary issues in higher education. She has been engaged in professional service and scholarship throughout her career and is currently co-editing a book on college students and their environments, which will explore how universities create culturally inclusive and engaging communities.

Dr. Akens earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Toledo and a master’s degree in college and university administration from Michigan State University. Her doctorate in higher education is from Florida International University. Throughout her career in Higher Education and Student Affairs Dr. Akens has established herself as a dedicated advocate for students, a proven leader and mentor.

Dr. Laura A. Bayless currently serves as the Vice President for Student Affairs at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. She previously served as the chief student affairs officer at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Caldwell University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and as dean of students at Longwood University in Virginia. Dr. Bayless has initiated a systematic and strategic assessment and program review process at several institutions, and has served as a consultant with a number of departments and divisions of student affairs across the world about assessment and program review. She is passionate about the growth and development of both students and employees, fostering environments in which all contribute to the community we create, and making a difference in the world. Assessment and Emergency Management are particular areas of interest.

Teaching in online masters programs preparing higher education professionals since 2004, Dr. Bayless has taught American Student Development Theory, Multiculturalism and Diversity in Higher Education, Administration and Leadership, Advising and Supporting Students, and Practicum.

Dr. Bayless actively contributes to the field through engagement in professional associations. She has served on the Governing Board of ACPA: College Student Educators International. She has been honored as a Diamond Honoree by the ACPA Foundation, received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Higher Education Program at Virginia Tech, and received the Award for Excellent Practice-Senior Level from ACPA's Commission for Administrative Leadership, in addition to being recognized by students on several campuses. She is a frequent presenter, consultant, and podcaster.

Dr. Bayless earned her PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Tech; MS in college student personnel services at Miami University of Ohio; and BA in speech communications/mass media from Denison University


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