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Chloe Russell in her Steele Building office. (photo by Donn Young)

Chloe Russell, shown in her Steele Building office, wants each student to have “a personalized plan that incorporates academic, career and post-UNC goals.” (photo by Donn Young)

‘We’re here to champion each student’s individual story’

Chloe Russell (B.A. journalism and mass communication ’07), who was named associate dean for academic advising in September, says growing up in the Winston-Salem funeral home run by her family has been a seminal influence in her life. “A lot of my work ethic comes from seeing my family take care of a wide variety of needs when people are at their lowest point.” Russell’s childhood experience taught her to eliminate hassles and reduce complexity — skills that she puts to use in her current position.

Q: After Carolina, you went on to UNC-Greensboro to receive a master’s in education in 2012. Tell us about your career path.

A: I fell into journalism as an undergraduate student unintentionally and ended up loving it! After I graduated, my plan was to attend law school; however, my senior year was quite stressful. About two weeks prior to law school starting, I decided not to enroll. Luckily, because of my experience as a student working in New Student & Family Programs, I was offered a full-time job where part of my responsibility was helping coordinate the orientation schedule. As a part of that work, I met academic advisers and was encouraged to apply for a position when one opened. After working in advising for about a year, I decided to go back to school.

I use what I learned in journalism every day: understanding your audience, understanding strategies and tactics, how to communicate and manage your message.

Q: In the strategic plan Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good, “Strengthening Student Success” is one of the initiatives. What does that look like to you?

A: We’re here to champion each student’s individual story through purposeful interactions so that students achieve their academic, personal and post-UNC goals. We need to be their partner in deed and thought, celebrating their accomplishments while also holding them accountable for their decisions. It’s important that we come together as a university and place students in the center of all that we do.

Q: You provided the strategic vision for the Hardin Hub for Career & Academic Advising. Tell us about that hub in Hardin Residence Hall.

A: We learned a lot from Hardin — launched in fall 2015 — which was the beta test to see how we can share services. What really works are aspects that are simple: operating hours to align with student needs; a physical environment that is relaxing, warm, colorful and inviting to students; and shared services so that students can come to one spot for everything.

Hardin was the beginning of opening people’s eyes to the fact that it’s possible to support our students by making services easier to access.

Q: Tell us about the plan to develop a network of similar centers across campus.

A: As we go on this journey, I expect students to be placed in the center of all operations. I expect us to learn, grow and develop knowledge together. We want to build rapport to create purposeful interactions. I would like a caseload model where a student has a staff person who reaches out to them and to whom the student can respond. I want students to have a personalized plan that incorporates academic, career and post-UNC goals, whether that is a career or graduate school.

Q: How does your work foster equity in success across the student body?

A: There has to be a commitment on our end as a department to uphold the ideals of diversity, equity and inclusion and include them in the fabric of the organization. It starts with us being able to celebrate who students are at all times. We work to ensure that our practices and policies are not inadvertently leaving people out. We have to be willing to ask ourselves consistently, “Who can’t take advantage of this? How can we ensure equity?”

Interview by Michele Lynn

Russell was also recently highlighted in the College’s monthly “Lights on the Hill” feature.