New Leadership in Student Learning Center
By Riley Davis
Three familiar Appalachian State University staff members were welcomed to their new positions in the Disco Student Learning Center (SLC) this summer. Lee Cope, Executive Director of the SLC, Katharine Johnson, Interim Director of University Tutorial Services, and Travis Erickson, Director of Auxiliary Services, are excited and passionate about supporting the campus community through their new roles in the SLC.
Lee Cope, Executive Director of the Disco Student Learning Center
Background: During a successful 2.5 years working as the Director of University Tutorial Services, Lee Cope made many contributions to the growth of the SLC including developing a peer leadership model in the center, and increasing accessibility to tutorial services through technological advances. Cope has also worked and presented at the Southeastern College Learning Center Association (SECLCA) and the National College Learning Center Association (NCLCA). Currently serving as the Vice President of SECLCA, Cope will serve as the President next year, bringing the regional conference to Appalachian State next summer.
Goals/Visions: Cope made the transition to Executive Director of the SLC in June 2020. One of his biggest goals for the SLC is to achieve the NCLCA Learning Center of Excellence designation. The NCLCA promotes standards of excellence, flexibility, inclusivity, and high-quality student learning programs and services. By achieving the Learning Center of Excellence designation, App State’s Student Learning Center would join seven other certified collegiate learning centers in the United States in exceeding high standards for enhancing student learning.
One of Cope’s other major goals for the SLC is “to make the Student Learning Center known as a place where students want to come to learn, where they feel invited to expand their learning. I want it to be something that’s known in the campus community as a place where if a student needs support, whatever type of academic support that may be, that the Student Learning Center is a resource they can come to in order to access those services.”
What Cope wants the campus community to know: “I would say one thing to add is that I definitely want to make sure that the campus community knows that the Student Learning Center is open to collaborations and whatever we can do as far as being a resource for faculty, a resource for staff, and a resource for students. I want to make this a meaningful experience for the students while they're here and to engage them in learning and help them grow and be challenged, but do that in a way that's empowering for them as far as taking ownership of their own educational process.”
Katharine Johnson, Interim Director of University Tutorial Services
Background: Katharine Johnson has been working in higher education for almost 20 years, and has an extensive background in career coaching and services. She began working with Academic Strategy Instruction in the Student Learning Center in 2017, where she was able to infuse her background in career development to help students transition to college by helping them develop skills such as time management, organization, effective reading, and study methods.
Goals/Visions: Johnson was appointed the Interim Director of University Tutorial Services this summer, where she oversees four main SLC programs: Peer Academic Coaching, LEAD Chemistry Tutoring, Learning Labs, and Small Group Tutoring.
One of Johnson’s main goals in her new position is to “promote this idea of a continuum of services so that we can serve all students and meet them where they are. Not everyone needs the same level of service. There are different levels of commitment in terms of how much a student wants to use a service. You could get as much help or as little help as you need, depending on where you are and what your needs are. We really want to help students be independent learners.”
What Johnson wants the campus community to know: “One of the things that I really enjoy about my job is helping students see how taking care of their whole self is actually beneficial to their ability to learn and be a successful college student. They might have come in feeling like everyone else has got this together and they’re the only one struggling, but we know that's not true. Sometimes they get so caught up and feel so much pressure worrying about the grade that they've lost their love of learning. I try to remind them that they're choosing to be here because they care about and want to invest in themselves. I enjoy helping students feel like they're happy to be here.”
Travis Erickson, Director of Auxiliary Services
Background: Travis Erickson came to Appalachian State in 2009 with a background in Exercise Science. He worked as a faculty member, and later, an academic advisor in the Beaver College of Health Sciences. In June 2020, he began working with the Student Learning Center to continue supporting student learning from a different position.
Goals/Visions: As the new Director of Auxiliary Services, Erickson works to maintain the Student Learning Center’s infrastructure and tutoring software. Due to COVID-19, all of the SLC’s services will be offered via Zoom this Fall. Erickson's goal is “to support everyone that works in the Student Learning Center by providing them with easy access to tools to help serve our students”
Through online tutoring services, Erickson believes that there will be “a variety of ways that the SLC can help students manage during COVID. Part of it is academic obviously, but the other part of it would be that social network and social support system that they can get. The SLC can create a community for students. Learning lab, because it is more of an informal setting, could allow students to interact with one another in a meaningful way.”
What Erickson wants the campus community to know: “One thing I think people should know about the SLC is that if it weren't for our student workers, we wouldn't have a Student Learning Center. To deliver the thousands of hours of tutoring that this center does relies upon students to do it and take leadership roles and help coordinate everything. Otherwise, it just wouldn't get done.”
The Student Learning Center is offering all of its services via Zoom this Fall. Visit the Student Learning Center website https://studentlearningcenter.appstate.edu/ to learn more about the programs and services that are offered.
Look out for an additional article in the coming weeks which will discuss the specifics of how the Student Learning Center’s various programs and services holistically support students and the campus community.
About the Student Learning Center
Established in 1972, the Student Learning Center at Appalachian State University, which is part of Appalachian's University College, provides three core services designed to make higher education accessible by providing students the insights they need to navigate their college environment successfully. These services include tutorial services and academic strategy instruction, which are offered to all undergraduate students, and an additional service — As-U-R — which serves a specific group of students identified as needing comprehensive support. Learn more at https://studentlearningcenter.appstate.edu.
About University College
Formed in 2007, University College consists of the university’s general education program, faculty and student support, and co-curricular programming and support – all designed to support the work of students both inside and outside the classroom. All students at Appalachian begin their education in University College and benefit from its programs until they graduate. Learn more at https://universitycollege.appstate.edu.