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College Beyond Welcomes Local College Persistence Leader as New Executive Director

College Beyond’s Board of Directors is delighted to announce that Dr. Erin Wheeler, of Amite, LA, has been tapped to serve as the organization’s second Executive Director.

Dr. Erin Wheeler

A higher education innovator with over a decade of leadership in college success administration and social entrepreneurship, Dr. Wheeler began her tenure on August 5.

As a first-generation college student, Dr. Wheeler attended Southeastern Louisiana University, earning a B.S. in biology and serving as an advocate for her peers on the path to college completion. Passionate about both the value of higher education and about access and completion in STEM fields among underrepresented groups, Dr. Wheeler went on to earn an M.S. in biology and a Ph.D. in STEM Education from Southern University and A&M College.

At Louisiana State University, Dr. Wheeler served in the Center for Academic Success, helping students improve their learning and performance in tough STEM courses and supporting faculty to integrate effective teaching strategies into STEM curricula.

At LSU, she also led collaborative grant writing projects, retention initiatives, and faculty workshops that included the Colleges of Science and Engineering, and facilitated collaborations with residential life, multicultural affairs, and student life to provide holistic programming for students. She was responsible for innovating marketing and outreach efforts to increase the number of students utilizing tutoring and academic coaching services by implementing social media use, updating branding, and establishing engaging outreach activities.  She used her passion and talent for developing student leaders in revamping training and evaluation for the tutor and supplemental instruction programs. Dr. Wheeler also made significant contributions to campus wide retention initiatives that included the national renowned IMPACT program that targets students on academic probation.

Her achievements and leadership at LSU helped her to be recruited to join a new administration at Kentucky State University.  As part of President Raymond Burse’s transformation team, Dr. Wheeler was charged with re-envisioning the student success infrastructure to dramatically improve declining retention and graduation rates.   As Assistant Provost for Student Success and Retention, she made significant strides in improving institutional culture and metrics related to student success. Through a multifaceted strategic plan based on research, high-impact practices and embodied innovation, she was able to help the institution increase retention rates from 45% to 78% within two years.

After returning home to Louisiana, Dr. Wheeler continued her commitment to impacting individual college success by founding both a business which uses technology and an innovative business model to make college coaching services financially accessible to more first-generation, minority, and/or low-income students, and also by establishing a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing out-of-school programming to resource constrained rural communities like her hometown of Amite.

Dr. Wheeler has also served her community through various civic and religious organizations since childhood.  Currently, she is a board member and chief of staff of her mission-focused church, where she helps organize outreach events and capital campaigns.  She is also a charter member of a new chapter of Delta Sigma Theta that emphasizes resourcing rural areas of North Tangipahoa Parish. She is a regular volunteer at local high schools to help improve college preparation as well as to provide general support and assistance.

The College Beyond Board and staff wish Dr. Wheeler a warm welcome!

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