Center for Students Success & First-Year Experience Staff
CSSFYE is made up of five units all working towards student success. Through academic advising, academic support services, first-year initiatives, and all things student success the CSSFYE is here to ensure a quality collegiate experience for our diverse student population.
Find out more about our staff in each area below.
Dr. Ellis serves as the Director of the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience. In addition to his responsibilities as Director, he chairs the University’s Retention Advisory Board and holds the faculty title of Instructional Assistant Professor of Higher Education. He received his B.S. in Health and Human Performance and M.S. in Education from the University of Tennessee at Martin. He earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education in 2011 from the University of Mississippi. His dissertation focused on academic advising experiences of first-year students who were undecided in their major.
Dr. Ellis is involved in several higher education professional associations. He has held many leadership positions within the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), including a three-year term on the Board of Directors. Additionally, through publishing, presenting, and attending conferences, he is active in the Consortium for Student Retention and Data Exchange (CSRDE), National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. Dr. Ellis’ book, It Takes A Campus: 15 Initiatives To Improve Retention, was released in March 2017. Through publications, presentations, and speaking engagements, Dr. Ellis is committed to growth and professional development, in order to ensure student success, satisfaction, and persistence.
Jennifer Fos is the Associate Director for the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience and oversees our retention and success coaching areas. Dr. Fos earned her B.A. in English with a minor in Business Administration (2003) and her M.A. in Higher Education/Student Personnel (2007) from the University of Mississippi. She also completed the Paralegal Studies certificate program in 2004. She completed her Ph.D. in Higher Education in the spring of 2019.
She has worked for the University for more than twenty years. She is an active member of the Center for Student Retention Data Exchange (CSRDE), teaches a section of the Freshman Year Experience course for freshmen each fall, and coordinates summer orientation advising campus wide. She was the 2015-16 winner of the Outstanding Staff Member for Professional Non-Faculty and the 2016 Excellence in Advising winner among campus staff.
Senior Administrative Secretary
Susan Parker Ray is the Senior Administrative Secretary in the CSSFYE. Susie attended Western Kentucky University from 1988-1991 and moved to Oxford in 2008. Susie has two children who graduated from Ole Miss, Jacob in 2018 and Katie in 2022, which helps her relate to parents as they transition their kids here. She resides just outside of Oxford with her husband Keith, and she enjoys spending time at the lake, camping & boating, riding horses and her dogs.
Assistant Director for Advising
Dr. Travis Hitchcock is the Assistant Director for Advising and an academic advisor for freshmen in the School of Engineering. He also teaches EDHE 105: Freshman Year Experience and EDLD 201: Career Decision-Making.
Born and raised in Oxford, Travis attended the University of Mississippi and earned a B.S. in Human Development, an M.A. in Higher Education/Student Personnel, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education. Travis’ area of expertise and research interests lie within the field of career development and its impact on student retention. He is also a member of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and of the National Career Development Association (NCDA).
Katie Franklin is an academic advisor. She is originally from Oklahoma and earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Education in School Counseling from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Before moving to Oxford, Katie lived in South Korea and taught conversational English for five years. She started her career at Ole Miss in 2017 and worked in the Office of Financial Aid before joining the team in the CSSFYE. She is dedicated to helping students successfully transition into college and achieve their educational goals.
Sr. Academic Advisor
Molly Coleman is an academic advisor. She received her B.A. from The Ohio State University in International Relations, during which she studied abroad in Warsaw, Poland. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she taught conversational English at a primary school in Nyirbator, Hungary. She graduated in December 2014 with an M.A. in Higher Education/Student Personnel from The University of Mississippi. Prior to joining CSSFYE Molly worked as an international student advisor for the Study Abroad Office. Originally from Decatur, Illinois she now calls Oxford home where she resides with her family.
Molly enjoys guiding students to figure out what they excel in and are passionate about to be able to declare a major. She teaches a section of EDHE 105 – Freshman Year Experience and EDLD 201 – Career Decision Making. The puzzle of helping students choose courses that count towards as much as possible is her favorite part of her job.
Victoria McCord is an academic advisor. She earned a B.A. in Psychology (2014), a M.A. in Higher Education and Student Personnel (2017), and an Ed.D in Higher Education (2023) from the University of Mississippi.
Victoria started her career at Ole Miss in 2014. Before joining CSSFYE, she worked in Student Housing and Diversity and Community Engagement. Victoria is passionate about helping students identify their goals and motivating them to overcome obstacles and exceed expectations.
Sr. Academic Advisor
Michael Smith is an academic advisor. Originally from Mobile, AL, he completed his B.A. in International Studies at the University of South Alabama in 2009. He completed his M.A. in Higher Education/Student Personnel at the University of Mississippi in 2011.
Michael returned to Ole Miss after serving students at LSU for over four years. He is passionate about helping students discover their strengths and identify opportunities to connect those strengths to potential academic majors and career fields. He also coordinates our StudentsFIRST program designed to assist first-generation students with the transition to college.
Jordan is an academic advisor. She is a Texas native who moved to Oxford in 2014. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in General Studies minoring in Education, History, and Psychology as well as a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education, both from the University of Mississippi.
Jordan strives to make sure each student feels confident and secure in their future as well as making sure they have an easy and smooth transition into college.
Nyterica Jenkins is an academic advisor. She is originally from Grenada, MS but she calls Oxford, MS home. Nyterica graduated with a B.S. in Exercise Science in 2018 and a M.A. in Higher Education/Student Personnel in 2021 both from the University of Mississippi.
Nyterica also teaches a section of EDHE 105 – Freshman Year Experience. She has an immense passion for helping students reach their goals to set them on their desired career path. The opportunity to build unique bonds with each student is the most rewarding part of her role.
Matthew Weaver is an academic advisor. He is from Belleville, IL, a suburb of St. Louis, and graduated with his B.S. in Exercise Science in 2014. After graduating, Matthew spent 3 months living in Italy while teaching English to two children before returning to Ole Miss to complete his M.A. in Modern Languages with an emphasis in Teaching English as a Second Language. He then went on to complete his MBA at Ole Miss in 2017. While completing his graduate programs, Matthew taught Intensive English and EDHE on campus at Ole Miss. He currently teaches EDHE 105, BUS 271, and GB 101 at Ole Miss. He enjoys traveling with his wife Meredith, and spending time with their dog, Griff.
Daniel is from Booneville, MS. He graduated from Northeast Mississippi Community College in 2015. He then transferred to the University of Mississippi, where he has received a B.A. in History (’17) and a M.A. in Higher Education/Student Personnel (’19). He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Higher Education. Daniel is passionate about instilling self-reliance and self-confidence in his students.
Daniel is an avid reader, gardener, and pickleballer. He enjoys spending time at Ole Miss sporting events, never missing a baseball game in particular! He and his wife are expecting their first child – Lily – in October, 2022.
Madeline is an academic advisor. A lifelong Ole Miss fan from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, Madeline earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Ole Miss in 2017. She worked for two years at William Faulkner’s historic home, Rowan Oak, before moving to Florence, Italy to earn a Master of Arts in Museum Studies. Madeline has since worked in the curatorial and collections departments of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Museum of the Bible, and the National Polo Hall of Fame. Madeline enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling, and is an avid baseball fan devoted to Ole Miss and the Chicago Cubs.
Madeline is delighted to return to Ole Miss to help students achieve their goals and enjoy all that Ole Miss and Oxford have to offer!
Weston Tidwell is an academic advisor. He is originally from Madison, Mississippi and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration before completing his Master of Arts in Higher Education in May 2023. Prior to joining the Center for Student Success, Weston worked as a graduate assistant for the department. Throughout this assistantship, he has gained a real passion for helping students achieve their academic goals.
Weston enjoys watching Liverpool FC, Ole Miss sports, or doing any type of outdoor activity with his dogs, Ella and Goose, in his spare time.
Cyle Haulcomb is an academic advisor from Pontotoc, Mississippi. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Biblical Studies from Blue Mountain College in 2013. He completed his M. Div. in Missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2019 in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
While working as the Associate Director of Admissions at Blue Mountain College (2021-2023) Cyle found his passion for helping students achieve their dreams. His desire is to encourage each student to strive towards excellence in their academic and career goals.
Bethany Fitts is a Mississippi native and UM alum. Before returning to Mississippi for her graduate degree, she taught ESL, Literature, and Creative Writing on a Fulbright in the Czech Republic. When she’s not working or traveling, she plays Animal Crossing and cuddles with her kitten Nami.
Assistant Director for FYE
Rachael Durham is the Assistant Director for First-Year Experience. She also serves as an instructor for EDHE 105 – Freshman Year Experience. She is originally from Memphis, TN, but now calls Oxford home. Rachael completed her B.A. degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations from the University of Mississippi in 2008, her M.A. in Higher Education/Student Personnel in 2012 and Ed.D. in Higher Education in 2023.
Coordinator of First-Year Experience
Maura Scully Murry supports Ole Miss Opportunity Scholars and Transfer students in her role as the Coordinator for First-Year Experience. She also serves as an instructor for EDHE 105 – Freshman Year Experience. She is originally from New Orleans, LA but has lived in Oxford, MS since 2017.
As a first-generation college student, Maura completed her B.S. degree in Psychology from Louisiana State University and her M.A. in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Throughout her 20+ year career in higher education, Maura has mentored and taught new students, as well as underserved, marginalized student populations at various colleges and universities across the South and Midwest. Her passion for helping students thrive in college comes from her gratitude for the support she previously received from staff and faculty while she was a struggling college student. In turn, Maura strives to encourage, nurture, and empower students to achieve their vision of success, understanding that each person’s educational path is a unique journey.
Kaylee Markham is a first generation college student from Red Bay, AL and is currently pursuing a M.A. in Higher Education/ Student Personnel. She earned her A.A. from Itawamba Community College and recently earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Mississippi. Kaylee is passionate about supporting students in their transition to the university and serves as an advisor for the Transfer Leadership Organization. When she is not working, she can be found serving at her church, watching tv, playing piano and guitar, and spending time with her friends and family.
Success Coach – School of Applied Sciences
Anna Lauren Heavener works as a Success Coach in the Center for Student Success and First Year Experience, serving students in the School of Applied Sciences. She meets with parents and students to discuss retention programming and opportunities available to students in order to be successful at the university. She is originally from Walnut, Mississippi but has called Oxford home since 2013 when she transferred to Ole Miss from Northeast Mississippi Community College and began working as a student worker on campus. Anna Lauren completed her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences at The University of Mississippi in 2015 and Master’s degree in Higher Education/Student Personnel in 2020. She has worked at the university for a total of eight years, beginning her professional career as a Transfer Admissions Counselor before joining the CSSFYE team. She is a Certified Hospitality Professional, and teaches freshman and transfer sections of the First Year Experience course. Anna Lauren values her ability to create strong and genuine connections with her students and is passionate about providing equal access and opportunities to this beautiful and diverse campus.
Success Coach – School of Business
Stephen Willhauck is a Success Coach serving the school of business. He is originally from Virginia and earned a Bachelor of Science in sports management from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Before moving to Oxford, Stephen lived in Rochester, New York and served as an academic counselor while completing his Masters in Higher Education. Stephen is an avid sports fan and loves coaching rugby. In his free time, he loves spending time with his wife and kids camping, hiking and fishing. Stephen is excited about joining Ole Miss and is passionate about serving students and helping students achieve their goals.
Success Coach – College of Liberal Arts
Katie Lee Mullins is a Success Coach for the College of Liberal Arts. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at the University of Mississippi and her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Mississippi. She has taught in the public schools for over 8 years, primarily in Nashville, Tennessee and Central Mississippi. She has also worked as a Coordinator of Professional Development, training Early Childhood Education teachers. She enjoys spending time with her 2.5-year-old son, especially their Saturday morning donut dates.
Success Coach – General Studies
Michael W. Howland works as a Success Coach in the Center for Student Success and First Year Experience, and Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies. He received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (Magna Cum Laude) from Troy University and his Master of Science in Criminal Justice (Homeland Security) from the University of Mississippi. Michael retired in 2013 from a 25-year military career in the United States Army and Joint Special Operations Commands and served eight total tours of combat in Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq. During his service, he was assigned to many elite special operations forces and completed his time serving 10+ years with the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta (Delta Force). Since 2017, Michael has served as a deputy sheriff, high school teacher and nationally certified golf coach in Water Valley, Mississippi, winning a State Golf Championship in 2021 and State runner up in 2022. Michael really enjoys coaching and leveraging his diverse background to help students achieve success in and out of the classroom.
Success Coach – School of Business
Jared Ramos (he/him) is a Success Coach with the School of Business. Originally from Texas, Jared graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Leadership Studies from Texas A&M University in December 2018. Following his graduation, Jared moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he received a Master’s in Divinity from Emory University in May 2022. Jared is passionate about creating inclusive and welcoming spaces for students of all backgrounds and identities, as well as helping students find strategies to support their wellbeing during college. When he isn’t working, Jared loves to read, garden, watch TV, and drink iced lattes!
ACADEMIC SUPPORT PROGRAMS
Assistant Director for Academic Support Programs
Jeremy Roberts is the Assistant Director for Academic Support Programs in the CSSFYE. He oversees the daily operations of the at-risk programs; scheduling of presentations and workshops; marketing the ASP services to the University; and meets with parents and students to discuss EDHE 101, 202, and 303, academic coaching and consulting opportunities, and study skills/techniques. Jeremy has taught for CSSFYE since the Fall of 2012 – teaching EDHE 101, 105, 202, 303, and 305 with multiple sections each semester. He is originally from Terry, MS, but has called Oxford home since his freshman year in 2002. Jeremy has degrees in English and Hospitality Management from the University of Mississippi, a masters in Health and Sports Science from the University of Memphis, and an MBA from Delta State University. He completed his Ed.D. in Higher Education in 2023. He is also an event planner with 20 years of experience. He is a Notary Public, Certified Web-Enhanced Instructor, Certified Hospitality Professional, and has been awarded Instructor of the Year Spring 2017 for his work in EDHE 101: Academic Skills for College. Jeremy is passionate about marketing, all things event management, and learning each day from the students he interacts with here on campus.
Learning Specialist for Academic Support Programs
Stephanie S. Berry is a Learning Specialist for Academic Support Programs and Instructor in the Center for Student Success. Stephanie works directly with a caseload of at-risk students one-on-one, helping students identify and develop strategies to improve their undergraduate academic experience. She has taught for CSSFYE since the Fall of 2017, teaching EDHE 105 and EDHE 305 with multiple sections each semester. She is originally from Oxford, Mississippi and has raised her own family of three children with her husband here since 2008. Stephanie has an undergraduate B.A. degree in Philosophy from the University of Virginia, a masters (M. Ed.) in Higher Education Administration from Vanderbilt University and a masters (M.Sc.) in Educational Research Methodology from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. She has never met someone she hasn’t learned something from.
Learning Specialist for Academic Support Programs
Patrick Perry is a Learning Specialist for Academic Support Programs and Instructor in the Center for Student Success. Patrick received his undergraduate degree in geography, his master’s degree, and Ed.D. in Higher and Adult Education from the University of Memphis. Patrick served as Director of the Luckyday Scholars Program between 2008 and 2022. He currently serves as an Instructional Assistant Professor of Higher Education teaching EDHE656, Student Services in Higher Education and EDHE661, The Community College. He enjoys working with students to identify resources on campus so they may reach their academic, career, and life goals. In his free time, he enjoys tennis, making walking sticks, camping, and spending time with his partner Jennifer and three cats, Sophie, Nick, and Nora.
Anna Blakely is originally from Olive Branch, MS, she earned her Associate of Arts in General Studies from Northwest Mississippi Community College, and has recently earned her Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education from the University of Mississippi. She is pursuing her Master’s in Secondary Social Studies Education with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction. When she is not working, she can be found reading, watching the same T.V. shows over and over again, having Marvel movie marathons, and spending time with her beloved rescue dog Holly.
Chloe Baker is from Olive Branch, MS and is pursuing a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Mississippi in December 2021. Chloe acts as the social media manager for the Pride of the South Ole Miss Band and works other part-time jobs on the side. When she is not in the classroom or working, Chloe loves traveling, collecting records, and watching Marvel movies.
Daniel Menard, from the murky shores of Gulfport, MS, is pursuing a Master’s in Higher Education/Student Personnel. Having earned his undergraduate degree in English from the University of Mississippi, he is eager to serve the current student body. He will be instructing EDHE 202: Fundamentals of Active Learning in which he will assist students who are returning from academic suspension or dismissal.