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Valparaiso University has named Andrea D. Welch, Ph.D., as executive director for retention and student success, effective June 26. In this role, Welch will collaborate with administrators, students, faculty, staff and families to establish, coordinate and implement retention and student success initiatives at the University.

“I am delighted to welcome Andrea to the University as the inaugural executive director for retention and student success and look forward to working closely with her as Valpo sharpens its focus on retention and overall student success,” said Stacey A. Miller, Ed.D., assistant provost for inclusion and student success services. “Andrea’s extensive professional experience, servant-leadership style and intense passion as an advocate for student success is an ideal fit for this position. I am confident she will bring renewed energy to the University community as we continue to advance our retention goals and promote the success of each student, domestic and international.”

In seeking to improve and coordinate retention efforts, Valparaiso University leadership developed a collaborative and structured retention strategy, calling for the creation of a new position, executive director for retention and student success. As executive director, Welch will oversee institutional retention, programs, initiatives and support services, which includes the management of four retention-based committees. She will develop, coordinate, facilitate and evaluate the University’s retention efforts and take the reins on broader issues of persistence and completion, playing a critical role in the University’s overall goals for student success.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to become part of Valparaiso University and their mission,” Welch said. “I look forward to working with the campus community and contributing to the culture of student success.”

Welch has 14 years of higher education experience. From 2006–2015, she held various positions within student affairs and academic affairs at Indiana University South Bend, culminating in her role as the director of advising for the School of Education. During her tenure at Indiana University South Bend, she gained academic experience in curriculum development, program accreditation processes and faculty training. As director of advising, she focused on enrollment management and retention, and with her at the helm, her advising team increased student retention by 5 percent in a single year.

For the past two years, Welch served as associate vice chancellor for student affairs at Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend, Ind., where she was again responsible for enrollment management and retention. Under her leadership, the Ivy Tech South Bend campus closed the gap of enrollment loss by 11 percent.

Throughout her personal and professional experiences, she has acquired a passion for advocacy for student retention. She has served in numerous capacities as a change agent to increase communication and collaborative initiatives within and across institutions. Creating a culture of student-driven and data-informed practices has been a successful strategy in each of her higher education experiences.

Welch has mentored and served many underrepresented student populations. She is also a frequent guest lecturer and has presented at national conferences including the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the National Symposium on Student Retention (NSSR).

Welch holds a bachelor of science in interpersonal communication from Ohio University — Zanesville, Ohio, a master of education in college student personnel from Ohio University and a doctorate in higher education leadership from Indiana State University.

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