New vice chancellor for Student Success focuses on student experience

October 10, 2016

Jasmine Nelson

[email protected]

     After just one week at UCCS, Sentwali Bakari has made it clear that he will be reaching out to students as much as possible in his new position.

     Bakari officially started as the vice chancellor for Student Success and Enrollment Management on Oct. 3.

     Bakari will departments related to student success and retention. These departments include the Excel centers, MOSAIC, the Office of First Year Experience, Academic Advising and the Office of the Dean of Students.

     Bakari accepted the offer, leaving his position at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The vice chancellor for Student Success was filled by Homer Wesley, who accepted a position at Pikes Peak Community College last Spring.

     Bakari, who prefers that students refer to him by his first name, plans to attend campus events, including sports games, homecoming and SGA meetings. He urges students to say hello and provide feedback on what the university can improve.

     “I’m going to keep my commitment to be engaged with students about student development. I will be visible. Students will know that I’m not just going to be tucked away over here in Main Hall,” Bakari said.

     “My role is no more important than the students’ role that they have in terms of getting the most out of the UCCS experience.”

     Over 100 national applicants were interviewed for the position, according to Brad Bayer, senior executive director of Student Life and Leadership.

     The search committee’s decision to hire Bakari was unanimous. Bayer was a part of this committee, which included Mathew Cox, director of Enrollment Management, Travis Tafoya, former SGA vice president and many other representative voices of the university.

     An important part of the committee’s decision was the applicant’s role in student life, and Bakari was the best example of this, according to the search committee chair Martin Wood, senior vice chancellor.

     “We were looking for somebody who had a very extensive student life background in all aspects of student life, and his 14 years at Drake University was just that,” said Wood.

     Bakari hopes to help students enjoy their experience at UCCS beyond their first year. The university’s current retention rate for first year students transitioning to sophomore year is 68 percent, which is something Bakari would like to improve.

     “One of my goals is to work with my colleagues and students to improve that and understand what we can do as an institution so that when students arrive here, they develop a sense of belonging—a sense of connection,” said Bakari.

     The university’s recent growth has provided many opportunities for UCCS students and the Colorado Springs community to advance, which is impressive, said Bakari.

     The new vice chancellor admired UCCS’ vision and direction since the beginning of the application process. It was easy to tell that faculty members care about their students, according to Bakari.

     “I think very few schools can say that almost a third of their enrollment is coming in that is diverse in various different ways. Very few schools can say that and that’s special here, and I want to be a part of that,” said Bakari.