Chancellor’s Fellows find experience valuable, eye-opening

From left: Santiago Pinzon, Dr. Shane Tatum, Dr. Jacqueline Jones, Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr., Dr. Kanessa Doss, Jessica Kimbro and Dr. John Kline.

From left: Santiago Pinzon, Dr. Shane Tatum, Dr. Jacqueline Jones, Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr., Dr. Kanessa Doss, Jessica Kimbro and Dr. John Kline.

For the 2020 class of Chancellor’s Fellows at Troy University, the opportunity to interact with and learn from senior leaders and work with others from across the University provided them with an experience they will never forget.

Since 1995, Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor, has selected faculty and staff members to participate in the Chancellor’s Fellows Program, which is designed to develop increased knowledge and understanding of the programs and operations of Troy University. Under the direction of Dr. John Kline, Distinguished Professor and Director of TROY’s Institute for Leadership Development, the program spans the spring and summer semesters. The Fellows receive executive leadership training, attend meetings and presentations by recognized leaders both on and off campus, and are mentored by senior leaders at the University.

Former Fellows include Senior Vice Chancellors, Vice Chancellors, Deans, and Department Chairs, as well as persons holding high staff leadership positions on all Troy campuses in Alabama, as well as in other locations. 

The 2020 class of Fellows was made up of Dr. Kanessa Miller Doss, Dr. Jacqueline Jones, Jessica Kimbro, Santiago Pinzon and Dr. Shane Tatum.

“It was a privilege to learn from our senior administrators,” said Kimbro, a TROY alumna and Assistant Director of Graduate Programs. “I also enjoyed the opportunity to work across departments with the other fellows. One of my biggest takeaways is that we need to continue to work across departments. Doing so allows us to see things from others’ viewpoints and have a better grasp of the full picture of activities happening within the Troy University system.”

Tatum, Director of Campus Recreation and an adjunct faculty member in Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management, said getting a glimpse into the decision-making process was an important part of his experience as a Chancellor’s Fellow.

“The biggest take-away for me was the interaction on the senior level of the University. I was able to ask direct questions about things and understand how decisions are made,” he said. “Being a Chancellor’s Fellow shows that you have the potential to help lead the University in the years to come.”

Dr. Doss, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of Operations in the College of Education for the Montgomery Campus, said being a Chancellor’s Fellows with the backdrop of current events was interesting.

“The opportunity to be a Chancellor’s Fellow was extremely rewarding, and definitely unforgettable in the midst of unprecedented times in higher education and the world at large,” Doss said. “The knowledge gained about the University’s structure, policies, and procedures was priceless. Developing relationships with other Fellows, my mentor, and University administrators/staff was quite worthwhile, but interesting during a global pandemic and national unrest. Words cannot express my gratitude for being a part of such an amazing experience and a long list of TROY employees that have completed the program.”

Dr. Jones, an assistant professor of biological sciences, associate chair for the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, and director for the Biomedical Sciences graduate program, found the experience “eye-opening.”

“We were able to see how the University runs and also see the connections that exist outside the University,” Dr. Jones said. “It was an invaluable experience.”

Pinzon, Associate Director of Athletics for Compliance and Student-Athlete Success, believes his experience as a Chancellor’s Fellow will be of benefit within the TROY Athletics Department.

“I am very thankful for this opportunity, and I know this was a journey of self-discovery that will benefit the Troy University Athletics Department and my future as a leader in higher learning,” Pinzon said. “The biggest take-away from the experience is that our institution is as strong as it has ever been, and we continue to solidify the ‘One TROY’ mentality.”   

The Fellows, who were selected based on their leadership potential and service to the University, completed a study assigned by Dr. Hawkins on “Embracing a Culture of Recruitment and Retention.”

For Kimbro, who previously served as an admissions counselor and recruiter for the University, the project took on special meaning.

“So much of my experience with the University has revolved around recruitment, so our issue was something that has been closely tied to my professional goals and involvement to aid in the success of the University,” she said. “Working on a topic that has the potential to positively impact the University was extremely rewarding and eye-opening. It was great to see that so many of us, as employees, take ownership and accountability in aiding in the recruitment and retention of our students. Looking forward, I hope to be involved in the continued efforts to coordinate and expand on our current successes.”

Tatum said the group found an ongoing commitment to recruitment and retention across the University.

“This task was taken on by the group, and we embraced the challenges to develop recommendations that would help the University in the areas of recruitment and retention,” Tatum said. “Those two issues do impact the University in a lot of ways. We found during our research that everyone is working hard in those areas, and they are committed to creating innovative ideas that will attract and retain students in the years to come.”

Doss said the Fellows’ project was particularly important given the evolving role of education within society.

“I felt honored to be trusted with such an important and relevant task,” she said. “Our study has the potential to impact every aspect of how TROY recruits and retains students, but with such an honor also comes great responsibility. We strived to provide recommendations that were practical, obtainable, and innovative.”

Pinzon agreed, noting that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education has made the areas of recruitment and retention even more challenging.

“I love the opportunity to examine and assist with the recruitment and retention efforts at Troy University,” he said. “COVID-19 will change higher learning and adopting a proactive approach will ultimately help Troy University succeed in this competitive landscape.”

Communicating with each other about what is being done in the areas of recruitment and retention is key to maximizing the University’s efforts, Dr. Jones said.

“Our project showed that everyone at Troy University has a role to play in recruitment and retention, and, in large part, faculty and staff are taking part in that process,” she said. “The hole we found is that those efforts aren’t being communicated. If we develop mechanism for communicating what is being done with regard to recruitment and retention, then we can expand and maximize our efforts.”