Center for Students Success & First-Year Experience Staff
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.
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. She has 2 children, a son, Jacob, who is a graduate student at Ole Miss and a daughter, Katie, who is a freshman at Ole Miss. She enjoys attending sporting events and watching her daughter cheer and play softball.
Assistant Director for Retention
Jennifer Phillips Fos is the Assistant Director for Retention and an academic advisor serving students majoring in Accounting in the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience. 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 is an active member in the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), Mississippi Advisors’ Meeting (MAM), National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), Center for Student Retention Data Exchange (CSRDE), and the coordinator for the Freshman Attendance-Based Initiative (FABI) which is a retention program targeting the attendance habits of students in 100- and 200-level courses. She also teaches a section of the Freshman Year Experience course for freshmen each fall, and coordinates summer orientation advising for the campus.
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 serving business students with last names L-Z. 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.
Molly Coleman is an academic advisor serving Freshman Studies (undeclared) students. 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 Freshman Studies 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.
Jennifer Payne is an academic advisor serving business students with the last names A-K. Originally from Kentucky, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science/Secondary Education and a Master of Business Administration, both from Murray State University.
Jennifer has worked in Higher Education for eight years with experience in Business Advising, Admissions, and Orientation. She is passionate about assisting students make a successful transition to college at Ole Miss.
Victoria McCord is an academic advisor serving Applied Sciences majors. She earned a B.A. in Psychology (2014) and a M.A. in Higher Education and Student Personnel (2017) from the University of Mississippi.
Victoria has worked in Higher Education for four years, with experience in Student Housing and Diversity and Community Engagement. She is passionate about helping students identify their goals and motivating them to overcome obstacles and exceed expectations.
Michael Smith is an academic advisor serving Freshman Studies (undeclared) students with the last names L though Z (freshmen) and last names H-L (upperclassmen). 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 is returning 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.
Matthew Weaver is an academic advisor serving freshman in the College of Liberal Arts. 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 has a passion for connecting students to resources that help contribute to their academic and career goals.
Dion Sanford is an academic advisor serving students in the College of Liberal Arts with the last names A-K. He is from Courtland, MS. Dion graduated with a Bachelor’s in Accountancy in 2014 and a M.A. in Higher Education/Student Personnel in 2018, both from the University of Mississippi. He has a higher education background having worked in Procurement Services and the Office of Financial Aid on campus. He has a passion for helping all students succeed and start off on the right path.
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 and her M.A. in Higher Education/Student Personnel in 2012.
Leanne Kendricks serves as an Academic Mentor for First Year Experience. She also serves as a point of contact for Ole Miss Opportunity Scholars. Leanne completed her B.A in Anthropology with a minor in Mathematics in 2016 and her M.A in Higher Education/Student Personnel in 2019, both from Ole Miss. She is originally from Georgia, but now calls Oxford, MS home.
VETERAN & MILITARY SERVICES
Assistant Director for Veteran & Military Services
Andrew Newby is the Assistant Director for Veteran and Military Services at the University of Mississippi, where he serves active duty, veteran, guard, and reserve students. He works to solve the complex issues for military-connected students in higher education. His focus for the University of Mississippi is to ensure student veterans have a meaningful experience during their time at Ole Miss. He is passionate about implementing programs and works to ensure veterans have success after graduation. He is an eight-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, holds his B.A. in English, and a Master of Education in Adult Education from Auburn University. An Alabama native, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children, reading and writing, and flying airplanes.
Operations Coordinator – VMS
Stelenna Lloyd is the Operations Coordinator for Veteran and Military Services at the University of Mississippi, where she serves active duty, veteran, guard, reserve, and dependent students. She runs the day to day operations of the VMS office as well as ensures the VA pays students in a timely manner. She is passionate about ensuring veterans and students are successful in all aspects of life. She is a veteran of the United States Army and she holds an Associates of Applied Science in Computer Information Processing from Northwest MS Community College (1996) and also received her B.B.A. (MIS) in Business Administration from The University of Mississippi (2004). She is originally from Pope, Mississippi and a graduate of South Panola High School in Batesville, MS. She enjoys traveling and spending time with family.
ACADEMIC SUPPORT PROGRAMS
Assistant Director for Academic Support Programs
Dr. Rebekah Reysen is the Assistant Director for Academic Support Programs for the CSSFYE. She coordinates programs for the academically at-risk students at UM: EDHE 101 – Academic Skills for College, EDHE 202 – Fundamentals of Active Learning, the Contractual Readmission Program, and the Peer Leadership program. Rebekah also teaches EDHE 105 – Freshman Year Experience, EDHE 101, and conducts academic consultations.
Originally from Napa, CA, Rebekah went to Purdue University and received degrees in psychology and theater. She received both her master’s and Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Mississippi. Rebekah is a National Certified Counselor (NCC), a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and Distance Certified Counselor (DCC). She has been published in a variety of counseling journals and on topics related to student motivation, career development, attachment, group therapy, and workaholism tendencies.
Jeremy Roberts is the Learning Specialist 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 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.
Abigail McMullan is pursuing her Master’s degree in Counselor Education with an emphasis in clinical mental health. She is from Kennett, Missouri, and she graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2019 with a degree in Psychology. She serves as a Graduate Assistant for CSSFYE with academic advising. Abigail’s goal is to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and assist individuals with their needs.
Dallas Stricklen is originally from Iuka, Mississippi and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2018 with a B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders. As an undergraduate, she worked with students each year as a Community Desk Assistant. Her experience in that role and love of helping students inspired her to return to Ole Miss, where she is currently pursuing the MA in Higher Education/Student Personnel following graduate study in both dyslexia therapy and speech-language pathology. Presently, she serves as a Graduate Assistant for the CSSFYE in Advising. Off the clock, she is a dedicated dog mom to a Giant Schnauzer and an amateur equestrian.
Dugan Walker is from Suwanee, GA and is pursuing an MA in Higher Education/Student Personnel. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in May 2020 with degrees in Public Policy Leadership as well as Economics. He currently works as a Graduate Assistant with the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience where he is the Graduate Advisor for the Transfer Leadership Organization.
Samantha S. Strickland is in the Master’s program for Counselor Education with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is from Mantachie, MS and attended Itawamba Community College before coming to Ole Miss in 2017. She graduated with a BA in Psychology from the University of Mississippi in 2019. Samantha is a graduate assistant with Veterans and Military Services and spends her free time cuddling with her cat Sahara and spending time with family and friends. Her goals after graduation are to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and to work with young adults with limited access to mental health services.
Whitney Jackson is in the Master’s program for Higher Education/Student Personnel. A native of New Albany, MS, Whitney graduated from New Albany High School in 2007 and completed her undergrad at the University of Mississippi in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in History/English. After college, she worked with the Division of Medicaid as an Eligibility Specialist for several years and later taught 6th grade English Language Arts for two years at Holly Springs Intermediate School. She now serves as a Graduate Assistant in the Center for Student Success and First Year Experience, with Academic Support Programs. She is the wife of Montierre Jackson and outside of studies, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, singing and playing musical instruments, traveling and attending church.
Kayla VonBurg is originally from Carlyle, Illinois and is currently pursuing an MA in Higher Education/Student Personnel. She attended The University of Mississippi and earned a BA in Spanish in 2019. She spent a portion of her undergraduate career at La Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. She presently works as a graduate assistant for CSSFYE in Academic Support, serving as a graduate instructor for EDHE 202: Fundamentals of Active Learning.
Queenie Paltanwale is from Indore, India. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Pharmaceutical sciences with an emphasis in pharmacy administration. Queenie completed her undergraduate degree in Pharmacy from Devi Ahilya University in 2019. She is a pharmacist in India and has interned in pharmacy and hospital for some time before coming here for her master’s. She enjoys playing tennis in her free time, cooking and spending time with her friends. Queenie wants to further pursue Ph.D. in Health Outcomes and Research and work in a pharmaceutical company. She is a graduate assistant for the Academic Support Programs.