Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Michelle Brown, who has an outstanding record of success in leading academic support services with student-athletes, as director of the University’s Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA), effective May 6, 2013. She was selected following a national search led by a committee chaired by Dr. Steve Matson, dean of the Graduate School.
Dr. Brown will lead a talented ASPSA staff that serves the University’s nearly 800 student-athletes. Those colleagues include four associate directors, a learning specialist, a reading, writing and learning specialist, five academic counselors, and a tutor coordinator. They are joined by six part-time learning assistants (who are graduate students, an undergraduate alumnus, a local school teacher and a professional
tutor) and 57 part-time tutors (who are graduate students, local school teachers, and retired faculty).
Dr. Brown has more than 15 years of professional experience working with student-athletes, most since 2005 as director of the Student-Athlete Center for Academic Excellence and associate athletic director for academics and student services at Florida Atlantic University. She was associate director of the academic excellence center, as well as assistant director of campus-wide advising and academic support services for first-year students, at Florida Atlantic. She has demonstrated strong leadership skills, spearheaded several new initiatives, and implemented a data-driven approach in encouraging the academic and personal well-being of student-athletes.
Dr. Brown earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and French with magna cum laude honors in 1992 at West Virginia University, where she played Division I volleyball as a scholarship student-athlete and received all-conference honors. Between her sophomore and junior years, she earned a certificate in French at the Universiti de Paris, Sorbonne. While pursuing her Master of Arts degree in French/Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), she received a second certificate in French from the Universiti du Quebic ` Chicoutimi. She completed her Ed. D. in higher education administration at Florida Atlantic in 2002 while working full time.
Dr. Brown’s perspective as an accomplished academic and successful administrator who has competed as a student-athlete makes her an excellent fit for our University. She has the professional and personal experiences to work effectively with our faculty, administrators, student-athletes, and athletic department colleagues. Her hiring marks a significant milestone toward making the changes in the ASPSA that Chancellor Thorp announced last August as part of the campus-wide steps we have taken to strengthen the relationship between academics and athletics. At that time, the chancellor emphasized the opportunity to move forward in ASPSA with a fresh perspective, building on his conversations involving College of Arts and Sciences Dean Karen Gil, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham, and the Board of Trustees.
When Dr. Brown arrives, the program will move to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost from the College of Arts and Sciences, where the program has been housed since the early 1980s. This change reflects the important role that ASPSA plays in advancing the academic mission of the entire University, as well as the recommended growth in the program resulting from a strategic planning process completed in 2011. Dr. Brown will report directly to the provost, the University’s chief academic officer. She will also convene the Provost’s Roundtable, a working group that will bring together colleagues from across the University who are responsible for fostering the academic success of student-athletes.
The shift in reporting responsibility definitively addresses the proper separation of academic and athletic responsibilities for student-athletes because the provost is ultimately responsible for academic oversight across the entire campus. It follows Chancellor Thorp’s removal last fall of a secondary dotted reporting line from the ASPSA to the athletics department. Our plans for the ASPSA already had been informed by ideas from the faculty and were consistent with recommendations for all UNC campuses in the 2011 Task Force on Academics and Athletics report commissioned by President Tom Ross. President Ross since directed all UNC chancellors to take steps to ensure that academic support services and tutoring for student-athletes are under the purview and responsibility of Academic Affairs or another appropriate unit outside the athletic department. The athletics department will continue to fully fund the ASPSA.
As we announce Dr. Brown’s selection, we recognize the work of dedicated faculty, staff, and administrators in the College to promote the academic success of all students, including student-athletes. We also acknowledge the contributions of Dean Harold Woodard, who became interim director of ASPSA last year and has served ably in that role, even as he has continued to fulfill his other duties in the College.
Bruce Carney, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Bobbi Owen, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education