Robin Holmes-Sullivan is working with students to better the LC first-year experience. Photo courtesy of Lewis & Clark

Robin Holmes-Sullivan brings changes to LC

Lewis & Clark’s newly appointed Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Robin Holmes-Sullivan is ready to start this year running.  

Holmes-Sullivan has many exciting plans centered around student life on campus. She is particularly interested in developing “the first-year experience” and looking at how to better integrate students into life at LC. 

“The most critical time (is) when students start their college career, and we want to start them off right,” Holmes-Sullivan said. “In order for that to happen … our programming and academic offerings should reflect that kind of developmental process that first-years experience.”

Building off of the first-year foundation, Holmes-Sullivan is hoping to address the retention rate at LC. She feels that, though the academic offerings of LC exceed expectations, the social experience sometimes leaves something to be desired.

Holmes-Sullivan hopes that in improving the infrastructure and opportunity for first and second-year students, the rate of retention will improve. 

“If you do (the first year experience) really well and make sure that the students are really acclimated … the odds of them retaining to the second year go up astronomically,” Holmes-Sullivan said. “We are imagining a first-year experience (that is) exciting and positive for the students.”

Holmes-Sullivan has many ideas to improve student life on campus. This fall, she is emphasizing collaboration between students and staff aimed at incorporating student opinions into the process of upgrading campus facilities. 

With student support, Holmes-Sullivan aims to transform Templeton Student Center into a true student union. 

“We have a campus center that has a mixture of administrative offices and some student stuff,” Holmes-Sullivan said. “There’s no coherence to that experience (or) in that building … I would like for us … (to make) Templeton the hub of the campus experience for undergraduates.”

Holmes-Sullivan plans to make these changes through a program called the Campus Engagement and Programming Plan, in which a Student Experience Task Force (SETF) made up of students and faculty will plan renovations of existing areas and create new student spaces. 

This team will work closely with other student success organizations and collaborate with the New Student Orientation (NSO) and first-year experience task forces.  

“We wanted to tie the student union to the student experience and … get the students engaged,” Holmes-Sullivan said. “I (want) students (to) be leading that process and using their voice to help us.”

Holmes-Sullivan looks forward to working with students to continue to improve the student experience.

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