Leadership Network Symposium: Nurturing Success from Enrollment to Graduation

Brief Abstract

In today's dynamic educational landscape, prioritizing the student experience is key to fostering success and retention. This session delves into effective strategies for guiding students through their entire academic journey, from enrollment to credential completion. Join us as we explore innovative approaches to empower entering students with the necessary preparation, support, and resources, both inside and outside the classroom. Discover how informed decision-making and milestone navigation can positively impact student success, engagement, and overall satisfaction.


The OLC Leadership Network Symposium will bring together trailblazers and influential voices in our field in a highly collaborative one-day event, fostering discussions and debates about our digital learning futures. Together, we will determine our top priorities for the upcoming year, addressing the most significant challenges and opportunities facing our field. It aims to collectively identify areas that require our focused attention in addressing the ubiquitous challenges and promising opportunities for creating equitable, inclusive, and quality online and blended education. This year’s symposium promises a truly engaging experience, featuring a keynote address, panel discussions, and numerous networking opportunities. Do not miss out on this unique and prestigious event, where you can connect with leaders from around the world and gain valuable insights into critical topics. Learn More and Register: https://onlinelearningconsortium.org/attend-2023/accelerate/leadership-network-symposium/


J. Garvey Pyke, Ed.D., leads the Center for Teaching and Learning in fueling the enrollment growth at the university through online course development, creating high impact student success programs using personalized and adaptive learning, promoting faculty success and scholarly teaching through innovative faculty development programs, and overseeing the provision and support of enterprise academic technologies, with a focus on high quality instruction in all teaching modes and models. The success of the CTL has made him a sought-after contributor for professional organizations and consultant for other institutions, having served as President of the University of North Carolina Faculty Developers Consortium and also as a member of steering committees for the both the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Innovate and Accelerate conferences, and he has presented multiple times at these and other conferences. Garvey has also been a keynote speaker at the Georgia State University Conference on Scholarly Teaching in 2016 and University of Central Florida’s TOPkit Workshop in 2022. An alumnus of the 2010 OLC Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL), Garvey has stayed active in the IELOL network, assisting Larry Ragan with the design and facilitation of the IELOL Master Class in the years 2014 to 2017. Garvey was co-director of IELOL in 2018 and 2023 and has been serving on IELOL faculty since 2019. As an educator for over 25 years and having been with UNC Charlotte since 2003, Garvey enjoys collaborating with faculty members and staff to design and develop programs which impact faculty satisfaction and lead to student success. His work involves the practical application of research methods and instructional systems design methods to various instructional projects at UNC Charlotte, and he is an affiliate member of the Graduate School and has served on several dissertation committees. He holds a doctorate from Indiana University’s School of Education in Instructional Systems Technology and has taught at the university and K12 levels. He also holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Tulane University.
Dr. Cynthia Pascal is the Associate Vice President of eLearning at Northern Virginia Community College's online division, overseeing Faculty Services, Instructional Design, Student Services, and Educational Technology Support Services for over 550 faculty and 28,000 asynchronous students. She and her team prioritize inclusive, culturally responsive practices to promote student success through authentic engagement and open pedagogy. When not serving NOVA, she supports higher education leaders in designing holistic support services, policies, and practices to better serve marginalized and non-traditional populations.
Terry Di Paolo is Vice Provost of eLearning for Dallas College. He has served as an academic administrator in multiple roles leading major strategic projects associated with college transformation, academic technology and quality in online learning and teaching. Terry moved to Texas in 2012 having spent over a decade as an academic at the United Kingdom’s Open University. With an interest in ways in which technologies and systems enhance the student experience, Terry’s career has straddled both academic affairs and student success. He is a specialist in online learning and teaching and draws on his experience as a social scientist to innovate in the higher education space through a socio-cultural lens.
Melissa Vito has over 35 years of experience in public higher education. As Vice Provost for Academic Innovation at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA), Melissa has transformed teaching and learning at UTSA, grown an infrastructure for fully online programs and created dynamic learning environments that prepare students to thrive in a world where digital literacy and fluency are required. She led the reorganization that brought together the areas of Teaching and Learning and Digital Learning into one area focused on modality-agnostic teaching, learning, and digital transformation. Under her leadership, UTSA Online, a fully-online university experience, climbed to the top 25% of all online U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Programs list in 2023. Melissa was instrumental in uniting UTSA and Adobe Creative Campus and creating a research project to measure the impact of curricular use of Adobe tools on student learning. Melissa and her team have also reimagined physical learning environments. Academic Innovation transformed over 60 classrooms and four outdoor learning spaces. The Educause Horizon Report in 2022 recognized UTSA’s dynamic approach to integrating collaborative academic technologies into classrooms and faculty training. Melissa envisioned and created the Academic Innovation Center (AIC), an incubator and community space that brings faculty, students, and teaching and learning specialists together to experiment with new ideas, encourage creativity and inspire transformative teaching. Melissa has enhanced student success by creating innovative faculty professional development programs and dedicating more than $1 million to faculty grants and incentives. Prior to UTSA, Melissa served as Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives and Student Success at the University of Arizona (UA), retiring in July of 2018. During her UA career, she developed and launched UA’s online programs in 2015, and was recognized by UPCEA in 2019 for the Innovation in Transformation Award. She co-founded the Gender-Based Violence Center; co-coordinated efforts that led to UA’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution; envisioned and developed the Think Tank learning center; reimagined Career Services; and oversaw the development of the University’s first Veterans Center. Melissa’s vision to bring together all areas that impact student success resulted in the UA Student Success District, which opened in 2021. Melissa has consulted with large public universities and corporations on issues pertaining to higher education, fully online programs, leadership, crisis management, and faculty development. She speaks and writes frequently, including contributing to NASPA’s book Online & Engaged (March 2020) and From Grassroots to the Highly Orchestrated. Recognized nationally by NASPA as a Pillar of the Profession, she has also received the ACPA national award for Excellence in Practice, the National Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors Kent Gardner Award for Excellence, is a member of the Online Learning Consortium Board of Directors and on faculty for Educause’s Digital Leaders Institute. At UA, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and English and a master’s degree in Higher Education and Counseling. She has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University
Dr. Caleb Simmons currently serves as the Executive Director of Online Education at the University of Arizona, where he is also the Faculty Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program and Professor of Religious Studies. During his time in the role of Executive Director, he has overseen strong growth in online student enrollment, increased retention, persistence, and graduation rates, and launched over 20 new programs. He holds a BA in Religious Studies (Southwest Missouri State University), MA in Religion (Florida State University), and a PhD in Religion from The University of Florida, as well as an MBA candidate (exp. 2023) at The University of Arizona. He previously served as Visiting Assistant Professor at University of Mississippi and adjunct faculty at Santa Fe College (Gainesville, FL). His current research focuses on digital and online learning for which he was named a Center for University Education Scholarship (CUES) Distinguished Fellow. His research portfolio also includes his work on religion in South Asia, especially Hinduism, including two monographs—Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India (Oxford University Press, 2020) and Singing the Goddess into Place: Locality, Myth, and Social Change in Chamundi of the Hill, a Kannada Folk Ballad (SUNY Press 2022)—, one multi-authored book, one co-edited volume, and over 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, with dozens more editorially reviewed scholarly and pedagogical publications. He formerly served as the Book Review editor for Religion (Routledge) and is a member of the Administrative Committee, as well as the website/listserv manager, for the American Academy of Religion South Asia Religions Unit. Within the academy, he has been a leader in expanding interdisciplinary research aimed at addressing major social and global challenges, and in growing hands-on and experiential learning opportunities for students.

Extended Abstract