by Renata Opoczynski and UIA Fellow Dr. Chastity Gaither

As many of you know, for the last 10 months I have not only been serving in my current role as assistant dean, but also stayed on as the UIA Fellow due to the hiring chill imposed in April 2020.  We recently went through a search process to find our next UIA Fellow, and I extend my appreciation to the search committee, led by Glenn Chambers (APUE), and including D’Wayne Jenkins (NSSC), Jeff Beavers (SAS), Laura Bix (CANR), and Sarah Gretter (Hub). Their deliberate work resulted in a diverse and highly qualified candidate pool and allowed us to bring three great finalists to campus.

I am delighted to say that Dr. Chastity Gaither will assume the role of UIA Fellow at MSU as of March 1, 2021.  We are all beyond thrilled she accepted this position and throughout the search she impressed people with her ability to weave theory to practice, her grounding in the research on marginalized student success, her strong commitment to DEI, and how well prepared she is to project manage student success initiatives on campus.  We are delighted she has agreed to serve in this important role on campus.

Dr. Gaither will be reaching out to many folks as she situates herself in the student success ecosystem on campus and is eager to learn more about all of you and your work.  Until then, I wanted to give her a moment to introduce herself to you all. Below are her words.

From Dr. Chastity Gaither:

I have had the honor and pleasure of not just earning my PhD in the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education (HALE) program here at MSU, but also working at the institution for the past six years. You know, way back when the NSSC was just simply the “Neighborhoods.” Specifically, under the umbrella of The Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education (APUE), I have been afforded the opportunity to serve as a Student Research Assistant IV and Graduate Assistant for Assessment and Student Success. In addition to working in roles that specifically support and serve undergraduate students, I have successfully participated in research and the development/implementation of multiple undergraduate student success programs and initiatives.

I’m excited to continue my journey here at MSU, as the new University Innovation Alliance (UIA) Fellow. With over 17 years in the field, I pride myself on being a scholarly practitioner and fostering campus-wide relationships. My research interests include DEI in post-secondary students and leadership populations, college and career readiness, as well as examining student success holistically. I must admit my time in the field has been extremely rewarding.  You see, working in higher education is more than just a career for me, it’s a calling. I truly believe that I was called to serve, support, and assist scholars with their higher education journeys. As such, I’m looking forward to this next chapter and working with partners across campus to support undergraduate success. #togetherwewill