In this new position, Leah Frierson will oversee student academic affairs and advising for undergraduate students in Arts & Sciences, as well as set, coordinate, and monitor the priorities for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the College.
Leah Frierson has joined the College of Arts & Sciences as director of student academic affairs and associate dean of advising. This new position in the College is part of an overall reorganization meant to align and improve current student academic affairs efforts with the mission of the College and to help realize the strategic vision of the vice dean of undergraduate affairs.
Frierson brings with her to the position over 18 years of experience in academic advising and student support, and she holds a doctorate in educational leadership, with a concentration in higher education, from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Most recently, she served at Duke University as the assistant director of academic and scholar programs for the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program. She previously held leadership roles in academic advising at the University of Richmond and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Prior to her career in academic affairs, Frierson coached college women’s basketball. “The academic advising part of my career really grew out of my coaching roles. I really enjoyed supporting my players in discovering who they were beyond athletics, as well as all of their options for classes and opportunities across campus,” Frierson said.
As director of student academic affairs and associate dean of advising, Frierson will be responsible for overseeing four functional areas in the College related to undergraduae student academics: four-year advising and the first-year experience; student progress and academic success; academic policies and administration; and post-graduate and pre-professional planning.
This new position will also be responsible for setting, coordinating, and monitoring the priorities for diversity, equity, and inclusion across these areas and serve as an expert guide in the College’s efforts to support students from diverse backgrounds.
“Our goals are to reinforce our comprehensive advising model and to better infuse our priorities for diversity, equity, and inclusion across the entire student academic experience,” said Erin McGlothlin, vice dean of undergraduate affairs. “With the reorganization of the College Office and this new role overseeing student academic affairs and advising, Leah will be positioned to ensure that we are best supporting all of our undergraduate students, especially our underrepresented, first-generation, and financially vulnerable students, at every step in their journey.”
The creation of this position also aligns with larger strategic planning efforts being led by Feng Sheng Hu, dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences. Earlier this year, Dean Hu named Adia Harvey Wingfield as vice dean of faculty development and diversity to increase diversity and inclusion at the faculty level.
As a first-generation college student, Frierson has a personal interest in the mission to enhance each student's undergraduate experience. “I went pretty much my entire college career without great academic advising. I did not have anyone to tell me about any of the amazing opportunities that institutions offer, like study abroad, student research, or getting involved in student organizations,” said Frierson. “My motivation to further student success really stems from my personal experience. I don’t want anyone to miss out the way that I felt like I did.”
A native of Belleville, Ill., Frierson is excited for the opportunity to continue the work she loves while being closer to her family.