Student Success

by Kristi Holsinger, Ph.D., Interim Senior Vice Provost for Student Success

portrait of Kristi Holsinger

I joined the Criminal Justice & Criminology faculty in 1999 and over the last five years have gradually transitioned into administrative work. My research and teaching focus has been on interventions for at-risk and incarcerated youth (particularly girls), youth mentoring programs, and teaching innovations that prepare students to challenge and transform “justice” systems. This work provided a logical pathway to work in the realm of student success, as Associate Dean for undergraduate students and programs in the College of Arts & Sciences and now as Interim Senior Vice Provost for Student Success.

One of my goals has been to amplify student voices and be responsive by addressing barriers and sending emails of appreciation to faculty and staff. I have loved being part of the development of a new student newsletter, Roo Connection, designed to support and encourage students, tell their stories, and provide updates and access to needed resources. Our 100-plus volunteer staff, faculty, and alumni outreach Phone-A-Thon to more than 6,000 students with individualized follow-up was an important part of our response to COVID-19. Several outreach efforts to advisors, staff, and faculty have been useful in learning about current student experiences and guiding various action plans to both attract students and better support them. For example, we enacted policy changes (e.g., Credit/No Credit options, raising thresholds on cashier’s holds, re-evaluation, and changes to course fee structures, extending scholarship deadlines) and worked with various offices to develop a distribution plan for student CARES Act funds and UMKC-raised emergency funds for COVID-19 related expenses. We gained many insights from students who participated in our recent virtual open forum, Beyond the #Hashtags. They shared profound ideas on achieving greater racial equity at UMKC that have already motivated action.

Other work that I am excited about includes the expansion of the First Gen Roo CAS pilot program to the entire university and the development of a centralized advising model, which will add more frontend career guidance and faculty mentorship. Leading UMKC Forward’s Team B Subcommittee on Student Success was time-consuming yet productive in identifying new strategic plans for improving both student recruitment and retention. These new initiatives will serve to strengthen our RooSTRONG Student Success model and our Culture of Care.

Finally, I want to acknowledge that these accomplishments were only possible due to the commitment and dedication of the directors and staff in the Office of Student Success, the other Offices in the Provost’s Office, and collaborative work across many units and teams. It has been my privilege to be a part of the UMKC family these past 20 plus years, and it is my dream to serve in a leadership role that revolves around student success!