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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

International Advisory Board

As the international presence and work of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition has changed and grown in the past decade, we are proud to introduce the International Advisory Board.

Similar to the National Advisory Board, this new board of global scholars serves in a consultative role for the Center, giving advice and contributing suggestions for research topics, publications, marketing and funding strategies, and conference speakers, as well as authoring articles for Center publications and evaluating award nominees and grant proposals. These leaders and experts in higher education represent a variety of institutional types and resource centers from around the world. The International Advisory Board members provide unique perspectives and expertise. The Center hopes to benefit from this and provide resources that promote student success, learning, and development on a global level.

Abdulaziz Alfehaid

Abdulaziz Alfehaid

Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University
Saudi Arabia

Abdulaziz Alfehaid is a professor of Applied Linguistics and TESOL in the Department of English Language at Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University-IAU (formerly the University of Dammam) in Saudi Arabia. He has taught both undergraduate and postgraduate modules for a number of years at IAU and other universities. His research focuses mainly on preparatory (first-) year student retention, English language education, English for academic purposes, developing and evaluating preparatory year curriculum and programs and student transitions. He is a translator and author. He also has many research publications in the field.

He is the Dean of Preparatory Year & Supporting Studies at IAU as well as the chairman of the department of English language. As dean, Abdulaziz has worked to mobilize faculty to support student achievement through professional development and student success initiatives, including revision of the preparatory year curriculum, a quality assurance system, pedagogical research and assessment, new learning support systems, and pedagogical innovation.

Prof. Alfehaid is the founder and the Secretary-General of the National Committee of Deans of Preparatory Year Programs in Saudi Universities sponsored by the Ministry of Education. In 2015, he founded and chaired the first National Conference for Prep Year in Saudi Universities, a welcoming venue for researchers and other specialized scholars to work on improving the prep year experience in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Alfehaid has presented at a wide variety of educational conferences and symposiums (national, regional, and international) and is often invited to provide consultancy support on issues relating to first-year student linguistic challenges, academic achievement and retention, the first-year curriculum, and transitional aspects. He is also a member of many national and international committees.

Prior to becoming dean, Alfehaid was the vice-dean of admission and registration at IAU and held responsibilities related to enrollment and student records. He obtained his MA and PhD in applied linguistics and TESOL from the School of Education at the University of Leicester, England.

Hala Al-Najjar

Hala Al-Najjar

American University of Kuwait

Hala Al-Najjar works at the American University of Kuwait (AUK), where she has served as the First Year Experience program coordinator for the past five years. She continues to research the educational, cultural, and social influences that are distinctive to Arab students in Kuwait and throughout the Gulf. During her time as coordinator, she has initiated and overseen significant program initiatives to develop a first-year curriculum that gives students social and academic foundations needed for success at a liberal arts university. She has an undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, where she majored in sociology and minored in psychology and education. She went on to graduate from Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts with a Master of Education, focusing on cultural and linguistic awareness. Recently, she spent summers at Harvard School of Education, studying and completing several certification programs on teaching in the 21st century. With a research interest on the impact of globalization in Kuwait, Al-Najjar has developed and led several professional development workshops: Effective Teaching Strategies for 21st Century Learning, The Effects of Globalization in Education, and The Role of Culture 21st Century Education.

She has also developed and continues to lead cultural sensitivity orientation workshops for expatriate educators teaching in Kuwait. Al-Najjar has been recognized for both her civic and professional accomplishments. Two awards that she is most proud of are those she received from her students at AUK (Most Supportive Faculty, 2013 and 2015; Carrier of the AUK Spirit Faculty Award, 2016). A member of several local clubs and organizations, Al-Najjar is active in promoting social justice in the community. She has started her own NGO and is a founding member of the Soroptomist International group.

Christine Curtis

Christine Curtis

University of the Bahamas

Christine Curtis serves as the Coordinator of First Year Experience at the University of The Bahamas (UB), a premier institution with two major locations, one on the island of Grand Bahama and the other in the capital of Nassau.

Prior to joining her UB family in 2016, Curtis served in various capacities at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology as a senior counselor, program coordinator, behavioral intervention specialist, and quality assurance coordinator. Her passion and enthusiasm for the at-risk population has led her to serve as an advisor for the Ministry of Education's Student ReFocus Support Program since 2016.

Curtis holds a B.Sc. degree (Hons.), an M.Sc. in counseling and administration, and a D.Ed. in vocational, technical, and career education.

Robert Kenedy

Robert Kenedy

York University

Robert Kenedy, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at York University, Canada, where he has won four teaching awards, an award for his service to students, and the Senate of Canada Sesquicentennial Medal for service to the nation. For his pedagogical research, he has written articles on peer education, integrating critical thinking skills into courses, and the importance of supporting student learning through teaching partnerships. Kenedy has also been the guest editor of a special themed issue on peer education in the Journal of the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition. His work examines cocurricular and curricular peer education, mentorship, and leadership, focusing on academic and social contributions to the post-secondary transition. Kenedy's research highlights integrating peer educators and leaders into courses and studying their impact on student learning. He specifically examines best practices for incorporating peer educators inside and outside the classroom as well as evaluating the pedagogical benefits for students in terms of critical thinking, writing, and other academic skills.

Karen Nelson

Karen Nelson

University of Southern Queensland

Karen Nelson, PhD, PFHEA is a Professor of Higher Education and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Southern Queensland. From 2014 to 2018, she was the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Students at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). Prior to joining USC, she held the roles of Director, Student Success and Retention and Director, First Year Experience at Queensland University of Technology, as well as senior academic roles.

Nelson adopts a research-led, evidence-based approach to her higher education leadership roles. Her research has focused on student learning engagement in higher education and the first-year experience. She has led a series of large, nationally funded projects in these areas. Major projects include developing a maturity model for student engagement retention and success and a social justice framework for higher education. In 2017 she led a third national project, Shaping the 21st Century Student Experience in Regional Universities, and she recently completed a report on completion rates for equity students for Australia's National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education.

Nelson's contributions to higher education have been recognized by more than 10 institutional and national awards, including three Australian awards for university teaching. In 2016 she was awarded Principal Fellow Status of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA). In Australia, Nelson serves the higher education sector as the editor of Student Success, a journal exploring the experiences of students in tertiary education, and as co-chair of the annual STARS Conference.

Diane Nutt

Diane Nutt

European First-Year Experience Network (EFYE)

Diane Nutt is an independent consultant and researcher in higher education in the United Kingdom. She previously worked at Teesside University, where was the acting Assistant Director of the Learning and Teaching Department and head of the student retention team. She has been a lecturer in sociology and a staff developer and was awarded a University Teaching Fellowship at Teesside in 2006. During her tenure there, she initiated a project on study skills provision and became involved in work on the first-year experience. In 2003, she moved from sociology to a central learning and teaching leadership role, where she set up a retention team and completed a major ESF (European Social Fund) research project on the retention of nontraditional students (published in 2005). This was followed by a number of other projects, including setting up an institutional retention strategy, leading a further £250,000 ESF dissemination project, and representing Teesside as part of a more recent major national project funded by the Higher Education Funding Council, England (HEFCE) on postgraduate student experiences involving 11 institutions. Nutt was recently awarded a Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA).

At Teesside, she was actively involved in a variety of committees and working groups, including chair of the Rough Guide editorial board, as well as being an author of two Rough Guides. In her role, Nutt worked closely with schools, program teams, and faculty in developing curricula. She is committed to exploring strategies to enhance the student experience, from the first year throughout the university journey. She has published a number of articles and chapters in her original discipline as well as on retention and student experience. She is co-author of the NRC monograph (with Denis Calderon) International Perspectives on the First Year Experience in Higher Education.

Nutt began the European First-Year Experience Network and is chair of the EFYE Conference Organizing Committee. She has presented at a wide variety of conferences and events and is often invited to speak or provide consultancy support on issues relating to retention, the first-year experience, and transitions. Nutt holds a BA in independent studies from Lancaster University in England and a PhD in sociology, also from Lancaster. Her thesis was on childless women's social networks.

Annsilla Nyar

Annsilla Nyar

South African National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition (SANRC)

Annsilla Nyar holds the post of Director of the South African National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition (SANRC), where she is responsible for all the operational, strategic, and scholarly aspects of the work of the SANRC.

Nyar is an academic and researcher with extensive experience in the higher education sector. Prior to joining the SANRC, she held the post of Manager, Research and Policy Analysis at the former Higher Education South Africa (HESA), a coalition of 25 public universities in South Africa. HESA is now Universities South Africa. Before HESA, she worked as Senior Researcher at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory, a partnership between the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Johannesburg, and the Gauteng Provincial Government. Annsilla holds a master's in political science from the University of KwaZulu Natal and a PhD in political science from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Pιnar Özbek

Pιnar Özbek

Koç University

Pιnar Özbek is the Coordinator of ALIS 100 (Academic and Life Skills), the experiential first-year program at Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2017, she launched the FYE network in Turkey, which now has 200 members from 90 institutions. The inaugural FYE symposium in Turkey was organized in 2018 by her team at Koç University. Özbek serves as a consultant and conducts workshops for higher education professionals planning to implement FYE programs at Turkish universities. She is also a member of the Higher Education Initiative within the global Wellbeing Project.

She teaches courses such as Academic and Life Skills, Transition to Professional Life, and Next Generation Leadership and Transformation at the undergraduate level at Koç University. She also offers life skills workshops and coaching to graduate students on work–life balance, public speaking, time management, and intercultural competence. Özbek co-authored the book University and Beyond: Life Skills for Young Adults, a manual for life skills instructors as well as a guide for college students. She is also the co-author of a book chapter, "Transition to Professional Life Through Experiential Learning," in the Palgrave Handbook of Experiential Learning in International Business. Her team received the Outstanding Service Award at Koç University in 2013, and she was a grantee of the Women's International Leadership Award at International House in New York in 2008.

Özbek has a background in counseling and psychotherapy and served as the secretary-general and vice president of the Turkish Psychological Association for two consecutive terms. She graduated from Boğaziçi University with a degree in psychology and continued her education at Columbia University, where she earned her Master of Arts and Master of Education degrees on a Fulbright scholarship.

Marisol Silva-Laya

Marisol Silva Laya

Ibero-American University

Marisol Silva Laya is an associate professor in the Research Institute for the Development of Education (INIDE) at the Ibero-American University. Her research work centers on equity and justice in education, higher education policy, quality and evaluation of education, and the first year. On these subjects, Silva Laya has published several articles, books, and book chapters with national and international publishers. Currently she is working on two projects: The Pedagogical Dimension of Equity and Urban Poverty: A New Multidimensional Vision. She is part of the National System of Researchers Level 2.

Silva Laya is an advisor with the Directive Committee of the Mexican Council of Educational Research and a member of other academic evaluation committees, including Conacyt, the UNAM Pablo Latapi Award, and the ANUIES Award to Best Thesis Dissertation, as well as a member of the editorial committees of the following journals: Education Policy Analysis Archives, Perfiles Educativos, Revista Mexicana de Investigación Educativa, and Revista Mexicana de la Educación Superior. She has actively participated in constructing educational policy deliberation and collaborated with organizations and public agencies oriented to the advancement of the educational system’s performance, including the Citizen Observatory of Education, the Technical Committee for the Diffusion and Utilization of Educational Evaluation Results at the National Institute for Educational Evaluation, and the National Association of Universities and Higher Education Institutions’ commission for the development of the initiative for the Law of Higher Education.

Silva Laya earned her PhD in education from the Ibero-American University, her master’s in educational research and development, also at the Ibero-American University, and her bachelor’s in education with a mention in pedagogical sciences from the Andres Bello Catholic University. She recently concluded a six-year term as head of the Research Institute for the Development of Education and is currently a visiting research fellow at Bath University.

Herman Van de Mosselaer

Herman Van de Mosselaer

Artesis Plantijn University College Antwerp

Herman Van de Mosselaer has 40 years of experience in higher education in Flanders, Belgium. These include 20 years as teacher and coordinator of the first year in a teacher training college and 20 years in various positions, such as department head for education and quality care as well as department head for education and research. He has experience as a chairman, secretary, and member of visitation committees for bachelor's and master's programs in Belgium and the Netherlands. For many years, Van de Mosselaer was a member of the Quality Assurance working group of Vlhora, the Council of Flemish University Colleges, and of the steering committee for learning outcomes for higher education at the VLUHR, the Flemish Council of Universities and University Colleges. He coordinated international projects on topics such as access to higher education, retention and student success, and collaboration with the world of work.

Van de Mosselaer earned his degree in psychology and educational sciences at Ghent University. He is influenced by positive psychology (focus: appreciative inquiry and solution). He has expertise in several areas including curriculum development, problem-based learning, assessment for learning, learning competences, generic skills and 21st century skills, and study career guidance. He has published on topics such as democratic education, cooperative learning, assessment, ICT in teaching, learning competencies, and collaboration between higher education and the world of work.

Since 2010, after the organization of the fifth conference of the European First-Year Experience in Antwerp, Belgium, Van de Mosselaer has been a member of the EFYE Conference Organizing Committee. Supporting and coaching the learning of first-year students has been and still is one of his major interests. In 2005, he started a first research project on this subject. This led to the development of Lemo, a self-assessment feedback and feed-forward tool on learning competences and motivation for first-year students. The tool is now used in many higher education institutions in Flanders and the Netherlands, along with adapted versions in high schools. Since 2016, this online tool is part of the mandatory entry test for students in all Flemish teacher training colleges. In 2018, a new version was put into use.

Since his retirement at the end of 2018, Van de Mosselaer remains professionally active on a number of his favorite themes, including the first-year experience and students in transition.

Jacques van der Meer

Jacques van der Meer

University of Otago
New Zealand

Jacques van der Meer, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic and Research at the University of Otago College of Education, New Zealand. He has also worked in student learning development as part of the Higher Education Development Centre at the University of Otago.

Prior to working at Otago, Van der Meer worked in a variety of educational settings, including as a teacher and guidance counselor in a secondary school and as a director of community education.

His research areas relate to student transition and induction into higher education, student engagement, peer learning, and student leadership. He also has an interest in student retention and achievement, especially of underrepresented minorities. He recently received the 2016 Outstanding Supplemental Instruction Research award by the International Center for Supplemental Instruction and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The award was based on his co-authoring of a systematic review into the effectiveness of supplemental instruction that was published in the Review of Education Research, a top educational journal.

Reiko Yamada

Reiko Yamada

Doshisha University

Reiko Yamada is a dean and professor of the Faculty of Social Studies, Department of Education and Culture as well as the Director of the Center for Higher Education and Student Research at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. She has served as Director of the Center for Learning Support and Faculty Development and as Assistant Academic Provost at Doshisha and on the committee of the Central Council for Education in Japan. She has long been interested in comparative higher education policy in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. More recently, she conducted the quantitative study for student development and is engaged in comparative student research between Japan, Korea, and the United States. She was the first president of the Japan Association of the First-Year Experience.

Her recent English publications include Measuring Quality of Undergraduate Education in Japan (Yamada, 2014); "What Makes the Quality of Students' Learning? Focusing on the Articulation Between High School and University" in Mass Higher Education Development in East Asia: Strategy, Quality, and Challenges (Shin, Postiglione, Huang, & Futao, 2015, pp. 207-230); "Student Learning Through Active Learning: How Learning Commons Support Students' Independent Learning" in Technology and Workplace Skills for the Twenty-First Century: Asia Pacific Universities in the Globalized Economy (Neubauer & Ghazali, 2015, pp. 77-94); "Measuring Learning Outcomes on General and Liberal Arts Education: Integration of Direct and Indirect Assessment" in Student Learning: Assessment, Perceptions and Strategies (Bowen, 2016, pp. 81-100); "Impact of Globalization on Japanese Higher Education Policy: Examining Government Control and Quality Assurance" in The Palgrave Handbook of Asia Pacific Higher Education (Collins, Lee, Hawkins, & Neubauer, 2016, pp. 409-422); "Comparison of Student Experiences in the Era of Massification: Analysis of Student Data from Japan, Korea and the USA" in Managing International Connectivity, Diversity of Learning and Changing Labour Markets: East Asian Perspectives (Mok, 2016, pp. 169-187); "Productivity, Quality and Performance Excellence" in Raising Productivity in Higher Education (Asia Productivity Organization, 2017, pp. 34-44); and "Comparative Study of Student Learning and Experiences of Japanese and South Korean Students" in Assessment of Learning Outcomes in Higher Education: Cross-National Comparisons and Perspectives (Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, Toepper, Pant, Lautenback, & Kuhn, 2017, pp. 285-308).

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