Ghera Named Director of Student Academic Support
Dr. Melissa Ghera, Associate Professor and Interim Chair of the Psychology Department, will be taking a break from the classroom this semester after being named the College’s new Director of Student Academic Support. She will serve in the new role until May 31, 2014.
This unique position is a first for Fisher, and was created as a result of findings from the Foundations of Excellence study that the College participated in back in 2011. The study, which aimed to help participating institutions develop a consistent, campus-wide strategy for working with first-year students, was sponsored by the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. As part of the study, the College created a task force comprised of over 50 faculty, staff, and students. The group conducted faculty and student surveys, examined College systems, and analyzed data on student success to evaluate the first-year experience.
According to Ghera, one conclusion that emerged from the study was that many faculty, staff, and departments are doing great things across the campus, but not necessarily sharing information about those things with the campus as a whole. Her main goal is to make sure that those behind all of the great work are aware of what others are doing in an effort to create not only the best situation possible for first-year students, but for the student body as a whole. Ghera will, in her words, serve as an “ombudsmen” for students, who should now feel welcome to bring her any and all concerns – not just academic.
“We talk about the Fisher family so much, we are all like second cousins twice removed,” Ghera joked. “But there is a real openness among faculty and staff to make sure we are all doing what is best for our students. And that’s a great thing.”
Before students left for the holiday break, Ghera sent a letter to freshman congratulating them on getting through their first semester and encouraging them to look ahead to the next semester over the break and plan for more success. She plans to continue reaching out to departments across campus, individual faculty and staff, along with student clubs and organizations to make sure they know she is a resource. And, at the end of the day, her charge is really to support all students.
“Student support has always been and continues to be an important piece of Fisher’s approach,” she said. “My role will hopefully make it a little easier for our students to navigate the terrain.”