June 13, 2022

New Director of First-Year Experience Will Focus on Retention

The first to occupy this new position, Dr. Jonathan Manz will coordinate efforts and develop programs across student life and academic affairs to support undergraduates’ academic transition and success at the college.

Dr. Jonathan Manz will become Lewis & Clark's inaugural director of first-year experienc... Dr. Jonathan Manz will become Lewis & Clark's inaugural director of first-year experience July 1.Dr. Jonathan Manz has been chosen as Lewis & Clark’s inaugural director of first-year experience. He will step into the role on July 1. Manz has deep experience in student life, most recently serving as the director of student success and advising at Warner Pacific University in Portland, Oregon. Previously, Manz held roles in residence life and academic support at Baylor University, the University of Arkansas, Virginia Tech, and Purdue University.

Manz’s experience will be critical in shaping this new position, which was created through the Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) process. The goals of SEM projects are twofold: first, strategic recruitment to bring the best students to L&C, and second, a focus on programs and support that will retain them. Manz will hone in on the retention element, specifically helping first-year students find their footing, become fully integrated into our community, and prepare them up for a successful college experience.

Manz is charged with developing programs and learning opportunities that will help students connect with resources, establish relationships with faculty and staff, develop study skills, and deepen critical conversations around equity, inclusion, and belonging. While some of these programs already exist, Manz will unify these efforts under one umbrella, add programs and resources where he identifies gaps, and assess outcomes. He has a particular interest and expertise in fostering connections between academics and student life, and looks forward to this being a focus of his work at L&C.

“It’s a big job, and an important one. Jonathan impressed us with his enthusiasm, experience, and clear love for helping students be their best,” said Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Robin Holmes-Sullivan. “We know that students need to build a deep connection to the campus community in their first year or they are at risk of leaving. We also know of high-impact strategies that can help build that connection. Jonathan can connect all of those dots.”

With New Student Orientation right around the corner, Manz’s timing is just right. “I’m ready to hit the ground running,” he said. “Being a part of the incoming class myself is the ideal way to deeply understand how students are welcomed and integrated into this community.”

Manz has presented at national conferences on integrating student learning into residence life, and has published on academic and student affairs collaborations, student leadership, and university housing. He earned his BA in computer science from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia; his MS in student affairs administration from Baylor University in Waco, Texas; and his PhD in higher education from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.