Asst. dean awarded for work with transfer students

January 30 - February 5, 2017

By Angelita Faller

Dr. Carmen Robinson, assistant dean for student services in the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences, has been recognized for her work with college transfer students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

She won the National Institution for the Study of Transfer Students 2017 Bonita C. Jacobs Transfer Champion Rising Star award, which she will receive at the organization’s national conference in February in Atlanta.

The award is given in recognition of an individual who has demonstrated exceptional advocacy and leadership in the development and implementation of transfer-focused programs, policies, or research and whose efforts have made a significant contribution to the improvement of transfer student access, persistence, and success.

Robinson was recognized for instituting a transfer student orientation for the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences that focused on the needs of nontraditional students. She also served on a committee to research the needs of transfer and nontraditional students when UALR was drafting a university-wide student success plan.  

“I think students struggle with transition,” she said. “A lot of them feel left out. Working with transfer students has been the most rewarding part of my job, finding ways to help those students transfer and be successful.”

In 2011, Robinson joined UALR as an education counselor and advised more than 100 students. Wasting little time in continuing her education, she also started coursework for her doctorate of education. She already had a bachelor’s degree in public relations and two master’s degrees.

“I got really lucky and had one of the best bosses, Dr. Jan Thomas, professor of philosophy,” Robinson said. “He nourished my love of advising, recruiting, and data collection. He encouraged me to be in school and get my doctorate. I got lucky to have a boss that really helped me do the things that helped me grow.”

Thomas quickly noted Robinson’s professionalism and work efforts when she arrived at UALR.

“Dr. Robinson has an unwavering interest in finding a better way to do her job with the aim of improving the lives of UALR students,” he said.

Robinson was promoted to the assistant dean position in 2014 and is responsible for student recruitment and retention within the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences.

Meanwhile, Robinson graduated with her doctorate in May 2016. Her dissertation, “Navigating the Waters: Vertical Transfer to Four Year Institutions,” explored what factors determine whether a college transfer student is more likely to complete a college degree.

Due to her enormous success at UALR, Robinson has earned an administrative position at the University of California Santa Cruz. She will start as the director of undergraduate education at the end of January.

All about the students

The people who know her best describe Robinson as a professional who cares deeply about the students at UALR and is constantly looking for ways to help them succeed.

“Carmen always has a million-dollar smile and listening ear. She is the utmost professional and has a heart for students and their success,” said Shannon Gwinn, director of career development, placement, and student services.

Tom Clifton, dean of the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences, said Robinson “has always been great to work with” and “always had the students’ best interest in mind.”

During her time at UALR, Robinson enhanced recruitment and retention efforts for the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences by creating several student success initiatives. They include the March Career Series workshops, Student Success Banquet, and career exploration events.

She also helped transfer students ease into life at UALR by creating orientation events like Pulaski Tech-UALR Advising Day and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Day.

“Carmen was very insightful and a visionary who paid great attention to details,” said Vernard Henley Jr., assistant dean of the George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology. “She understood our students’ needs and those of the university, and when she was provided with autonomy, she was not afraid to push the envelope. Carmen was committed to student success and professional development.”

Meanwhile, Robinson is thankful for the support she received at UALR.

“I am very lucky to have had time here at UALR,” Robinson said. “I had a lot of great people encouraging me to further my career, and I want to shout out to our higher education faculty in the School of Education. They are great!”  

  • Carmen Robinson
    Carmen Robinson