SIUE Names Edwards as Dir. of Retention and Student Success
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has hired Geoffrey Edwards, EdD, as its new director of retention and student success after a national search chaired by Jessica Harris, PhD, assistant provost for academic equity and inclusive excellence and associate professor of history.
The search committee identified Edwards from a group of more than 40 qualified candidates. Edwards most recently served as associate vice president for student engagement and innovation at the University of Evansville. His responsibilities included “connecting students to various forms of engagement on and off campus and incorporating campus change-making initiatives into the co-curriculum.” He was concurrently serving as Evansville’s interim Title IX deputy coordinator, and he was also part of that institution’s COVID-19 response leadership team in the months preceding his arrival at SIUE.
Since arriving at SIUE Aug. 1, Edwards has worked closely with Office of Retention and Student Success staff and advising units across campus to understand the issues SIUE students were encountering this summer as they considered re-enrolling under new COVID restrictions and guidelines.
“While our first-year student retention goal was to match or exceed last year’s record return rate, all things considered, ending up a half a point down was not too disappointing,” Edwards said. “I was impressed by everyone’s sincere interest in student success from the moment I arrived on campus. I know SIUE has made some significant statistical strides over the past few years, and we plan to build on those successes.”
Edwards will have director oversight of general academic advising and learning support services, including testing services, tutoring and the delivery of academic developmental courses. The unit, which is housed under the Office of Enrollment Management, also coordinates broader retention planning and implementation in support of undergraduate and graduate retention efforts.
“We are extremely pleased with the breadth and depth of Geoff’s 17 years of retention experience, including his appointments teaching first-year students,” said Scott Belobrajdic, EdD, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management. “In addition, we will benefit from his extensive experience working with his former institution’s leadership team implementing change initiatives at the University of Evansville.”
Goals for Edwards’ first semester at SIUE include, but are not limited to, developing and supporting initiatives to achieve retention equity for all students, regardless of race or ethnicity, the creation of a retention committee, and direct involvement in the development of SIUE’s permanent shift to test optional admission.
“As we create these new admission standards, we need to understand the variables which will impact student retention and success beyond traditional standardized testing,” Edwards said.
This is a return to the area for Edwards, who graduated from Alton Marquette High School and previously served as assistant director of student development at Fontbonne University in St. Louis.
Edwards earned a bachelor’s from Monmouth (Ill.) College, a master’s in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University, and a doctorate in higher education and organizational change from Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois.
Edwards resides in Maryville with his wife, Christina, and their two children.
Photo: SIUE Director of Retention and Student Success Geoffrey Edwards.