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


Learn more about the nationally renowned experts scheduled to speak at the upcoming Annual Conference on The First-Year Experience.

Keynote Address

Laura Rendon

Laura Rendon

Laura I. Rendon is a Professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio. Her current research focuses on access, retention and graduation of low-income, first-generation college students and the transformation of teaching and learning to emphasize wholeness and social justice. Rendon earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She holds a M.A. in counseling and guidance and psychology from Texas A&M University-Kingsville (1975). She earned a B.A. in English and journalism from the University of Houston (1970), and holds an associate of arts degree from San Antonio College. Rendon also attended Laredo Community College.

Rendon is the author of Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking) Pedagogy: Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice and Liberation. She is also co-editor of Transforming the First Year of College for Students of Color, Educating a New Majority, and Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Higher Education ASHE Reader. Moreover, Rendon is co-editor of the ASHE/Lumina Policy Briefs and Critical Essays Series, and serves as faculty co-editor of Educational Policy and Practice Perspectives. Her scholarly work on access and achievement has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the PBS documentary, The College Track. She has received numerous awards including the ASHE Distinguished Service Award, and the NASPA Latino Knowledge Community Outstanding Faculty Award. Rendon has also been inducted into the Iowa Academy of Education.

Plenary Address

Stacey Doremus

Stacey Doremus

Stacey Doremus is the Assistant Director for Leadership Education and Development Programs and Systems. She works collaboratively with students, faculty and staff, as well as other universities to support the development and enrichment of student leadership skills through LEAD's program initiatives. Prior to pursuing her passion for encouraging student leadership growth and development, Stacey held a variety of positions within the corporate world focusing on marketing and innovative product design and development. She has a professional affiliation with the International Leadership Association and was recently awarded the 2018 McGraw Hill Excellence in Teaching First-Year Seminars Award. Stacey received her B.S. in Accounting from the State University of New York in New Paltz and a Master in Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University with an emphasis on leadership in church and community.

Closing Address

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Russell Lowery-Hart

Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart currently serves as President for Amarillo College, recently named a Leader College for Achieving the Dream. His leadership is focused on improving student success through systemic and cultural change. In his career, he created several institution-wide initiatives targeting a systemic approach to poverty, a common reader program, international travel programs for first year students, curricular reform, instructional improvement, advising and academic orientation expansions, first-year seminars, service-learning across the curriculum, and partnership development across campus "silos."

Dr. Lowery-Hart was selected into the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a rigorous, ten-month executive leadership program for aspiring community college presidents led by the Aspen Institute and the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative. Dr. Lowery-Hart served as the chair for the Executive Committee for the Amarillo "No Limits/No Excuses" Partners for Postsecondary Success Gates grant - a 21 organization collaborative focused on education certificate and degree completion leading to living wage employment. As President and founding member of Panhandle Twenty/20, Dr. Lowery-Hart facilitated a community-wide, yearlong study on education attainment that was the foundation for a profound transformation within the city of Amarillo.

He is a P-16 Regional Advisor for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, where he also served as the chair for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Undergraduate Education Advisory Committee charged with evaluating and redesigning the state of Texas general education requirements. He currently serves on the LEAP Texas Board of Directors with the goal to build upon the LEAP principles in assessment and instruction state-wide.

Dr. Lowery-Hart previously served as Vice-President of Academic Affairs for Amarillo College. He was named the National Council of Instructional Administrators Academic Leader of the Year for 2014. He received his Ph.D. in Gender and Diversity in Communication from Ohio University in 1996. He received his MA in Communication Studies from Texas Tech in 1993, and his BS in Speech from West Texas State University in 1991.