|2014 Keynote Speaker
“Shared Responsibility for Student Success”
Director, First-Year Experience, Georgia Southern University
Director of First-Year Experience (FYE) at Georgia Southern University, Chris earned his B.A. from Emory University and his Ph.D. in history from Vanderbilt University. Although he teaches a course most semesters, he has made a career out designing and administering programs that promote student success. In 2006, Chris chaired the task force that transformed FYE from a one-credit hour course on the fringes of academic life to a year-long series of faculty-led initiatives, which include the Conversations with Professors program and two academic courses: First-Year Seminar and Global Citizens. Part of the seminar course exposes students to academic goal setting, and in this capacity, Chris developed and maintains Georgia Southern’s “Academics 101” website as a resource for all first-year students. FYE’s ultimate purpose is to help students become the “self-directed leaners” described in the program’s vision statement.
Chris is equally committed to the faculty who teach first-year students, and more than 250 lead one or more of FYE’s major initiatives each year. He has worked to create what he calls “faculty buy-in” for helping students transition to university life. In other words, while individual expertise and good teaching practices are requisite for successful teaching, they are not enough for first-year students: they need faculty who understand and are eager to help them bridge that difficult gap between high school and college.