In honor of Transfer Student Week, which took place Oct. 17 – 21, 2022, we sat down with Charles Jackson III, Ph.D., director of Transfer Student Success, to learn a bit more about the work he’s doing creating connection and community with MSU’s growing population of transfer students.
Q. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your role as director of Transfer Student Success?
A. I started in the position of director of Transfer Student Success about six months ago (in May). We’ve been busy planning out transfer initiatives for this academic year. I was a transfer student to MSU. I’m originally from Detroit and started my educational journey at an HBCU, Tennessee State University. Due to financial and family reasons, I came back to Michigan and decided to go to MSU. I went to LCC first to bring my GPA up and change majors. I was able to do that, and I transferred over to MSU where I obtained my undergraduate degree and eventually a master’s and doctorate. My research study focused on Black male nontraditional students within a PWI (predominately white institution). The interview participants in my study were transfer students from various community colleges.
My role as director of Transfer Student Success is to centralize the operational efforts for transfer students and internal university partners. As transfer students make their way to MSU, we can connect them with various campus resources and collaborate with our university partners by highlighting and promoting these services.
Q. Is the Transitions & Transfer Student Success unit new within the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education?
A. Yes, this is a new unit. It was formerly the New Student Orientation Office, and our unit is now titled “Transitions & Transfer Student Success” which includes new student orientation (NSO). We also have specific programming and initiatives for our transfer student populations.
This new unit has been in the works for about a year now. Dr. Portia Watkins, Dr. Genyne Royal and our previous neighborhood director Lola Banks, facilitated a presentation on transfer initiatives during a Transfer Student Advising Summit last year.
Within the Transitions & Transfer Student Success unit, I manage the Transfer Student Success Center. It is a newly created innovative and conceptual space within the Transitions & Transfer Student Success unit with the goal of eliminating barriers for our MSU transfer students.
Q. What are some of the barriers to transfer student success?
A. Some of those barriers for transfer students include time to graduation. Transfer students have credits they are bringing into the university, and there are many nuances to those credits in terms of what’s accepted. This impacts transfer students’ time to graduation. We want to ensure the credits that transfer students have taken at the institutions they are coming from count toward their degree requirements at MSU and not extend their time to degree.
We are also addressing retention. We spend time throughout the semester collaborating with our campus partners to bring awareness around campus services and resources like career services, co-curricular experiences outside of the classroom and mental health resources. Building community and sense of belonging is important to combating those barriers.
Q. Who are some of your campus partners when it comes to those initiatives and programming?
A. Some of the campus partners we have worked with this semester are staff within the MSU CAPS team; advisors within Student Advocates for Essential Needs and Security; Jeff Beavers, executive director within the Career Services Network; Kanchan Pavangadkar, within the College of Natural Science; and Sarah Schultz who directs the Spartan Experience Record. We have also collaborated with Lansing Community College staff to facilitate a transfer workshop with LCC students who have strong interest in attending MSU. The partnerships we are establishing are not just within MSU; we aim to build connections with external partners to the university as well.
Q. What is the Transfer Student Advisory Board?
A. The Transfer Student Advisory Board (TSAB) is a diverse mix of transfer students from various backgrounds, and they are responsible for providing insight and feedback on ways to improve the transfer student experience. There are two subcommittees within TSAB – the existing student initiative group and the future transfer student initiative group. They are focused on ways we can improve our current transfer student experience and ways we can improve our transfer initiatives for future transfer students.
It is so important to note and honor the work that has been started, so many thanks go out to Lola Banks who provided the foundational work in supporting our transfer student initiatives and with our Transfer Student Advisory Board.
Q. How does the transfer student population enrich the MSU community?
A. Transfer students bring unique experiences that you don’t see within our first-year students because they’ve either attended a two-year or a four-year institution before coming to MSU. They are familiar with higher education, and they bring that knowledge with them that can be helpful to other students at the university. Also, transfer students include populations of nontraditional students, Veterans, family caregivers, and student parents. These diverse experiences contribute to enriching the MSU community.
Q. How can we support the efforts of your office and our MSU transfer students?
A. Collaborate with our office to bring awareness about the transfer student experience. Help us to get the word out about the transfer programming and initiatives we are looking to implement. We are always looking to build upon programming each year for us to help build community and sense of belonging for transfer students. This helps us operationalize our objectives within the Student Success Strategic Plan.
Q. Who can folks reach out to if they want to get more involved or have questions about the work your office is doing?
A. They are welcome to contact me, Dr. Charles Jackson III at email@example.com,or Ashley Hewlett-Lemke, program coordinator for the Transfer Student Success Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org.