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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.

Russell Lowery-Hart

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.

Nirmal Trivedi

Nirmal Trivedi is an assistant professor of English within the Department of English and the Director of First-Year Seminars in the Department of First-Year and Transition Studies at Kennesaw State University. Trivedi is recognized for his focus on using traditional and innovative elements to maximize the educational experience for his first-year seminar students. Trivedi has successfully incorporated innovation in teaching into his classes in ways that acknowledge and cater to changing student needs. One of Trivedi’s innovative assignments was an eJournal called "Year One: A Journal of the First-Year Experience at Kennesaw State.” In this eJournal, students wrote for each other and for other students around the country who were experiencing the challenges of transitioning to college. The digital platform inspired students to more openly seek out an audience by writing directly to their peers. Trivedi aims to challenge his students to exceed their self-imposed limitations through a “problem-based” curriculum that enables dialogue on an initial problem and the literature, resources, and technology needed to succeed. Trivedi has played an important role in revising the curriculum of first-year seminars at Kennesaw State by shifting focus to non-cognitive factors such as resilience, mindset, and belongingness as foundational aspects of a first-year seminar. He believes in the transformative potential that can be found in a first-year seminar and has routinely demonstrated excellence in teaching them.

Jennifer Keup & Annsilla Nyar

Jennifer R. Keup is the Executive Director of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition where she provides leadership for all operational, strategic, and scholarly activities of the Center in pursuit of its mission "to support and advance efforts to improve student learning and transitions into and through higher education." Her primary responsibilities include short and long range planning; oversight of program development and implementation; supervising a professional, graduate student, and undergraduate student staff; policy, personnel, and budget management; and serving as a liaison and representative of the National Resource Center to the Center’s constituents and the higher education community at large. In this capacity, she leads a team of professionals who coordinate the Center’s conferences and continuing education; publications; research, grant, and assessment activities; public relations; promotion; and resource development. Jennifer also serves as an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policies in the College of Education at the University of South Carolina.

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.

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