2019 Geaux Higher

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Louisiana State University Higher Education Administration Magazine

Louisiana State University Higher Education Administration Magazine


Geaux Higher is a publication of the Higher Education Administration program at Louisiana State University.


Joy Blanchard, PhD Avery Bracken Writer: Shana Khan Designer: Gillian Foss


Joy Blanchard, PhD Yu "April" Chen, PhD Ashley Clayton, PhD Roland Mitchell, PhD

The LSU Higher Education Administration program prepares practitioner-scholars for rewarding careers in higher education. The program offers a traditional and online Master of Arts and doctoral degree. The curriculum helps candidates develop the leadership vision, higher education knowledge, and management skills needed to assume leadership positions across a broad spectrum of higher education fields—including (but not exclusive to) recruiting, admissions, orientation, financial aid, counseling, Greek affairs, student activities, academic support services, student athlete support services, career planning and placement, and faculty.



Dean’s Letter and a Message from the Director


Achieving Higher


Achieving Higher

10 11-12

HEA Alumni Spotlight: Roderick Smothers

HEA Alumni Spotlight: Chris Gifford

Administrator Spotlight

Dr. Paul Manthei, Advisor for the Online MA in Higher Education Administration

Student Resources: Associations and Conferences


hea@lsu.edu @lsu_hespa facebook.com/LSUHESPA


Welcome to the LSU Higher Education program: the largest, most diverse, and arguably most engaged graduate program in the College of Human Sciences & Education. Our unwavering mission is to educate students who are dedicated to improving quality of human life across the lifespan. By joining us in these aims, you will learn from world-class educators including executive-level university administrators, law and retention specialists, and student affairs professionals. The value added to joining the Higher Education Administration program is the opportunity to engage our well-respected network of alumni who are sitting presidents, tenured faculty, education policy experts, endowed professors, and university research center directors, all committed to making an impact on our state, nation, and world. Geaux Tigers, Roland Mitchell Interim Dean, College of Human Sciences

Roland Mitchell Interim Dean of the College of Human Sciences & Education E.B. "Ted" Robert Endowed Professor

& Education


Our mission is to advance cognitive, social, emotional, communicative, and physical development across the lifespan through programs in Education, Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, Kinesiology, Library and Information Science, Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. Through teaching, research, and service, the college plays a significant role in addressing the complex human issues and policy decisions facing Louisiana, the nation, and the world.


MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR The LSU School of Education’s Higher Education graduate program has been meeting students’ educational needs since the early 1990s. The program was the first in Louisiana with full enrollment, and it has increased diversity among its students and faculty as it has grown. Over the years, additional degree specializations have been developed within the M.A. and Ph.D. in Higher Education. For example, the M.A. program has expanded to include online courses and services a broader range of students who previously lacked access to a high-quality Higher Education graduate program. It caters to an increasing student population with diverse needs and varied career goals. I invite you to read this edition of the “Geaux Higher” publication to learn more about our graduates, faculty accomplishments, sponsored events, and research currently underway. At the conclusion of your perusal of this new publication, please let us know your

F. Neil Mathews

thoughts as to how we can improve the magazine for future editions. To our alumni,

Director, Olinde Endowed Professor

please remember that we want to continue to remain in contact with you as we serve your higher education career needs.

We are proud of our ambitious program and believe that our students and faculty have a bright future meeting the needs of the higher education community through their teaching, research, and service. LSU’s Higher Education program is helping shape the future of higher education in Louisiana, throughout the nation, and around the world. I personally wish you well if you are an LSU Higher Education graduate and, if not, I hope to see you on campus soon. Best regards, F. Neil Mathews Director, School of Education Olinde Endowed Professor


Achieving Higher HEA Alumni Spotlights

Interview with Roderick Smothers

Alumnus of the PhD in Higher Education Administration and President of Philander Smith College Geaux Higher: What inspired you to work

I worked in a number of capacities

in higher education?

there at LSU from the Division of Continuing Education, where we were

Smothers: I came into higher education

more focused on adult learners and

right here at LSU, for my first professional

then back over to Academic Affairs,

job after graduating in December of

where I started working in the Office of

1995. I became a financial aid counselor

Multicultural Affairs as the director and

and also dealt with financial aid

was instrumental in helping shape the

scholarships; that was having dealt with

first Office of Diversity there. It was really

Roderick Smothers

that office as a student worker for a

in that space and that work that I fell in

President, Philander Smith College

couple of years. That was really my first

love with the higher education journey

Alumnus, PhD in HEA

exposure to higher education and, really,

because I was able to work specifically

working with students. I had a particular

with minority students at LSU—and not

interest in minority students and how

just African Americans but all minority

they could better afford college. Working

students, really helping them establish

with students and talking to them about

safe spaces and welcoming spaces for

some of the challenges that they were

them to matriculate and persist at a rate

encountering in order to afford a college

that was conducive to our success.

degree, I became extremely interested in it and ultimately decided that this was a

From there, I simultaneously pursued my

body of work that I could pursue for the

advanced degrees.

rest of my life.

Continued on pages 5 and 6


"I ended up at LSU and I don't regret it. It ended up being everything I needed and more." I got my master's and my PhD from LSU,

officer, that really got me to where I

I wanted to attend an HBCU, however,

and upon receiving my PhD, was offered

am now. That is not to discount any of

as you may know a little about my

to become a dean of Enrollment Services

the other experiences that I have had,

background, I am from a small town

at a small community college right up

but [it was] my experiences as a chief

called Vidalia, Louisiana, and was raised

the road in Lafayette (South Louisiana

fundraising officer at Langston where

in a single parent home. My mom was

Community College) and did that and

we created an advancement unit from

not making enough money to send

also joined the faculty at ULL, at first as

the ground up, wrote grants, raised

me to college and so LSU offered me

part time and then it ultimately became

money, and ultimately ended up raising

the largest scholarship. It was an issue

a full time position.

a little bit over $25 million before leaving

of affordability and my high school

Langston. Then I moved from there

counselor sitting down with my mom

I landed in Langston University in

to be chief fundraising officer or VP

and I and saying, "Hey, look, LSU is a

Langston, Oklahoma, as associate VP

for advancement at Houston Tillotson

great school," which, I knew it was, but

of Academic Affairs, all building upon

University in Austin, Texas, a small liberal

then she said: "I really think you can

the experience that I had gotten right

arts, Methodist-affiliated HBCU, and

go there and distinguish yourself as a

there at LSU, and ultimately became

secured some multimillion dollar gifts

scholar and as a leader and do great

chief fundraising officer at Langston

there. I capitalized on my ability to raise

things." So, with the urging of my mom

University, which required another

money, work in some of the key areas

and my high school guidance counselor,

skillset so I went to be trained via the

of enrollment management and, while

I ended up at LSU and I don't regret it. It

Thurgood Marshall Leadership Initiative

working with minority students, helped

ended up being everything I wanted and

of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

them overcome their challenges over all


those years. All those experiences is what Once I was trained as a senior

led me to be where I am today, which is

GH: Is there any advice that you would

development officer I was able to take

president at Philander Smith College, in

give someone who is currently in the

those skills and was able to parlay them

Little Rock, Arkansas.

higher education doctoral program?

administrator, and started writing grants

GH: What made you select LSU in the first

Smothers: So, third on my list, if I had to

and became very good at it, started


say, would have been my experiences in

into the skills that I already had as an

raising money and building relationships

the doctoral program and some of the

and I really do believe that it was my

Smothers: You know what, in full

professors who really took an interest

legacy, as you would, as a fundraising

disclosure, LSU was not my first choice.

in making sure that we were successful.

Continued on page 6


Interview with Roderick Smothers

Alumnus of the PhD in Higher Education Administration and President of Philander Smith College

Dr. Eugene Kennedy was there at the

former chancellor of LSU William E. Bud

because of a relationship that one of the

time, and also Dr. Micky Roberts Tillman,

Davis. I remember him just giving us lots

professors had. I had an opportunity to go

who is no longer at LSU. They were all

of practical advice about what would

down to the State of the Board of Regents

just so very fundamental and critical to

make him a successful administrator

and spend time with the commissioner,

our success.

and what would not, and now that I

who is now the president of ULL [University

am sitting in the seat of a president,

of Louisiana at Lafayette]. I spent days with

If I had to give advice to up-and-coming

his words still ring true to me, even

him talking about the broader picture of

doctoral students or aspiring students, I

today, some twenty years later. It is the

higher education and I can still remember

would give them three pieces of advice:

same advice that he gave us that is still

those conversations today. So, valuing the

relevant today, so I would really say to

experiences outside the classroom and even

Number one is to establish strong

become students of the information and

outside the university that the department

relationships with your professors. While

not students of the classroom.

afforded you, or afforded us, are still very

you are obviously going to gain a lot

valuable to me.

from them while you are there with them

I think that the final piece is just to take

in the classroom, there are also some

advantage of the practical experiences

out-of-classroom experiences that they

that the program will offer you. We

can share with you and also pass on to

got, in our program, an opportunity to

you, which will ultimately lend to your

shadow folks and I found that was the


most valuable. I had the opportunity, for example, to go to Southern

The second piece of advice is to really

University and work with some of the

immerse yourself into the critical

professors there as a result of some of

frameworks around higher education,

the relationships that they had with

educational philosophy, and theories

some of the professors at LSU. I had

that advance the department. I

an opportunity to do a practicum

remember my days in the classroom with

experience in the Office of Financial Aid at another university because of a


1 2 3

Establish strong relationships with professors. Immerse yourself in the critical frameworks of higher education. Take advantage of the practical experiences that the program offers.

Achieving Higher: HEA Alumni Spotlights

Interview with Chris Gifford

Alumnus of the LSU Online MA in Higher Education Administration and Director, Hurricane Education Center (HEC), Dixie State University thought much about education. I

strengths, but because of the students I

decided to go back to school and I was

got to work with, my colleagues, and the

actually a biology major initially, and I

support that I had with everyone was

Chris Gifford

finished up a degree in communications,

just tremendous. I felt that I was building

Director, Hurricane Education Center

and graduated magna cum laude. I

a lot of confidence, and I decided to

(HEC), Dixie State University

proved to myself that not only could

advance my career. I felt that it was time,

Alumnus, MA in LSU Online HEA

I do school, but I could also do it at a

so I started looking. I knew what I was

high level. There was something about

looking for; I just hadn't found it. I had a

Geaux Higher: Can you tell me about

education that really drew me in. The

colleague of mine actually recommend

yourself, career-wise?

ability to work with others, the ability

to me the masters program at Louisiana

to work with students, the ability to

State University. I remember the first

Gifford: Sure. My experiences in higher

advance myself while learning new

time that I got online and looked at it; I

education are quite unique. I was a non-


immediately knew. I just read through

traditional student, starting in education

the course outlines, the program, how it

in my 30s, first acquiring my GED and

There is something about higher

then commencing college.

education that you just can't get anywhere else, so I wanted to advance

I was a high school drop out, actually,

my career. I had worked in academic

and then decided to pursue some things

advising for about five years and toward

individually. I was in the construction

the end of my tenure in advising, I was

industry, and with the economy the way

nominated for Utah's Advisor of the Year,

that it is, it's cyclical, with its ups and

and I ended up winning that award. Not

downs, and I got tired of that. I never

so much because of my own abilities and

was laid out.

"I knew immediately that this is the program that I am going to

pursue. I went through the process of getting admitted, got into the program, and the rest is history. So here I am, a graduate of

Louisiana State University." Continued on pages 8 and 9


Interview with Chris Gifford

Alumnus of the LSU Online MA in Higher Education Administration and Director, Hurricane Education Center (HEC), Dixie State University

Geaux Higher: Why did you choose

Geaux Higher: How would you describe

be more meaningful than if I just threw

Louisiana State University's program?

your experiences of being in an online

out the first thing that came out on the

program, as opposed to being in a face-

top of my head. So I really enjoyed that

to-face one?

facet of it. There are seven-week blocks,

Gifford: Well, a couple of things. First and foremost, what drew me to the program

so it is fairly fast-paced and I needed to

is the way that it was administered.

Gifford: That is a good question. I had

stay on top of things. But, at the same

Obviously I am in a region far away from

always been hesitant, through my

time, I felt that it was just enough. It

the southern region over there, so that

undergrad and through some of my

kept you right on your toes. It kept

was intriguing to me. The program

other trainings, about the online format.

you engaged and I loved the format. I

itself, higher education, a masters in

I always enjoyed the interaction, the face

thought it was great.

education, with an emphasis on higher

to face, being able to be right there, ask

education administration was what I

questions from my peers. But, I think, as

Geaux Higher: After graduating from

was looking for. The online format was

I developed and matured as a student,

Louisiana State, where do you see

perfect for me as a working adult, and

the online format gave me additional

yourself going?

my busy schedule. I was able to work

opportunities and experiences that I

that between my normal office hours,

couldn't have had. I love the fact that I

Gifford: Well, that is another good

evenings, weekends, and the ability to

could look at something. I could read it

question. After graduating, I have taken

communicate and collaborate with my

but not have to respond immediately. I

up a position as the director of a satellite

peers and professors at any hour of the

could process that. I could think about

campus for the university that I work

day. It wasn't necessarily a face to face

my own experiences and how that

for here in southern Utah. It is allowing

or immediate interaction, but my ability

played into whatever questions it was

me to directly apply all the things that I

to communicate with them and have

that we were looking at, or whatever

learned in my degree and use those to

that experience was tremendous for

project that we might have been

manage a satellite campus, work with

me. It was an amazing opportunity. The

working on. I could really take some time

the employees, work with the faculty, the

experience was great. it was a win-win all

away and think about that and look back

staff that I work with here, so there is a

the way around for me.

and then contribute in a way that would

direct application of those things that

Continued on page 9


Achieving Higher: HEA Alumni Spot-

I learned in my program with what I am

Geaux Higher: I am glad that you had a

doing in my day-to-day work life.

good experience with our program.

I want to continue my education,

Gifford: It was awesome. I have some

perhaps either a Doctorate of Education

younger colleagues of mine that I am

or a PhD, I don't know. Perhaps Dean of

encouraging to pursue this very degree

Students or something in student affairs.

at LSU. So we are at Dixie State University

That is where my passion is. That is

in Saint George, Utah. I don't know how

where I have been most successful. That

many thousands of miles away we are

is where my career path will continue on.

from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but I feel

Can I add one more thing?

like it is part of me now. So, Geaux Tigers! I am right there now. I am proud to be an

I want to add one more thing about Dr. Paul Manthei. I would be remiss if I did not mention him specifically. The advising through my program made all the difference in the world. He went above and beyond to answer my questions. My hat's off to Dr. Manthei. I can't thank him enough for what he did for me, and for giving me that extra confidence and encouragement to get through the program. I just can't say enough good about him. It made me feel like there is somebody on the other end that cares about me and my progress in this program and is there to help me

LSU alum; it's awesome.

"The advising through my program made all the difference in the world. [Dr. Paul Manthei] went above and beyond to answer

Online Master of Arts in Education with a Specialization in Higher Education Administration The online MA in Higher Education Administration examines the diverse nature of higher education in an online setting. The coursework can be completed in as little as 24 months, and students will be required to complete a standard comprehensive final exam: a web-based portfolio or write a reflective essay. The online program consists of 12 courses. Each course is 7 weeks long.

my questions."

every step of the way. I never felt lost. Every time I had a question, he was there.


Administrator Spotlight

Meet the face behind the Online MA Interview with Dr. Paul Manthei

Advisor for the Online MA in in Higher Education Administration So, after after several years of teaching, I

chance to work on their degree, when

decided to come back to the university

they can work on their degree, and they

and to get my PhD in Ed. Leadership.

can do it at their own pace. Many of our students already work at universities.

I have served in a few different positions. I was a university supervisor for clinical

Geaux Higher: Is this online program

experiences and then I was assistant to

similar or very different than the on-

the coordinator for clinical experiences.

campus program?

Then, when she retired, I filled in as interim coordinator of the Office of Field

Manthei: It is actually really similar to

Dr. Paul Manthei

Experiences. I am now assistant to the

the on-campus program. Many of the

Advisor for the Online MA in Higher

director for the School of Education, and

courses are the same courses. As a

Education Administration

I also advise the online master's in Higher

matter of fact, some of the same faculty

Education Administration.

who teach our on-campus courses also

Geaux Higher: Can you tell me a bit

about your background?

teach their online counterpart. The Geaux Higher: Can you describe the

online program gives us a chance to

Online Master's in Higher Education?

attract students who may not be able to

Manthei: Sure, I was a secondary English

attend our on campus program because

teacher for about ten years. I taught

Manthei: The program is 36 [credit] hours

they either live too far away, they can't

11th grade and 8th grade English. Then

long. One of the things that I think is really

relocate, they do not want to move away,

I recieved my master's as part of the

great about the program is that it is 100

or they are looking to take courses at

Holmes program [allows students to

percent online, and so it is very flexible.

different times because of their job.

receive Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

It gives students the opportunity to take

and secondary teaching certificate

courses around their professional and

(grades 6-12) in one year, instead of two].

personal responsibilities so that they get a


Future Conferences Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) 2019: Portland, Oregon Preconference: November 13-14, 2019 Conference: November 14-16, 2019 2020: New Orleans, Louisiana Preconference: November 18-19, 2020 Conference: November 19-21, 2020

American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2020: San Francisco, California Conference: April 17-21, 2020

Association for Institutional Research (AIR) 2020: New Orleans, Louisiana Annual Forum: May 25-29, 2020

Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) 2020: Fort Worth, Texas Conference: March 19-21, 2020

Education Law Association (ELA)

2019: Norfolk, Virginia Conference: November 13-16, 2019



Future Conferences NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education 2020: Austin, Texas Conference: March 28-April 1, 2020 2021: Kansas City, Missouri Conference: March 20-24, 2021 2022: Baltimore, Maryland Conference: March 19-23, 2022 2023: Boston, Massachusetts

ACPA: College Student Educators International 2020: Nashville, Tennessee Conference: March 2-5, 2020 2021: Long Beach, California Conference: March 14-17, 2021 2022: St. Louis, Missouri Conference: March 6-9, 2022

SACSA: Southern Association of College Student Affairs 2020: Norfolk, Virginia Conference: Dates TBD


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