Meet Dr. Alycia A. Marshall, the College’s new vice president of Academic and Student Success. Dr. Marshall joins the College from Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) in Arnold, MD where she worked for the past 22 years.
While her most recent role at AACC was associate vice president for Learning and Academic Affairs, she has served in a number of positions, including interim vice president for Learning and chair of the Mathematics Department.
While at AACC, Dr. Marshall was responsible for transforming the Math Department’s developmental math course sequences which resulted in higher success rates. She also served as the principal investigator for the Engineering Scholars Program, a National Science Foundation grant program that provided scholarships and academic support to high achieving students with financial need who were pursuing careers in engineering and engineering technologies. With a focus on women and people of color, under Dr. Marshall’s leadership, 120 students were awarded $479,480 in scholarships.
We sat down with Dr. Marshall to learn more about why she chose CCP and what she hopes to accomplish in her new role:
Q: What made you interested in the vice president of Academic and Student Success position at CCP? What do you hope to accomplish in this position?
A: I was drawn to CCP because of the diversity of your student population, its status as a minority-serving institution, the College’s steadfast and ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism and the extreme passion that CCP faculty and staff have demonstrated in support of student success and completion. These values align extremely well with my own lived experience as a student of color and my personal commitment to this work. It is my hope to continue to build upon the great programs and initiatives that are already yielding increased student success, while collaborating with my new colleagues to further improve our outcomes for all students.
Q: What sparked your interest in pursuing a Mathematics degree and later teaching?
A: I was fortunate to have been selected to participate in a competitive Science and Technology magnet program in high school. The program exposed me early on to STEM and helped me to develop foundational knowledge which I leveraged during my undergraduate experience at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
I was motivated by UMBC’s focus on developing and supporting high-achieving African American students along the pathway to obtaining doctorate degrees in STEM fields. I took classes with other students who looked like me and were successful in fields where they had been historically underrepresented. This motivated me to study harder, to match their success, and to eventually be the face of color and support for my students who had similar goals.
Q: For more than 20 years, you’ve worked at a community college. What makes community colleges special to you?
A: Having grown up as the daughter of a Panamanian immigrant who came from humble means, I grew to intimately understand and resonate with the mission of community colleges; particularly the focus on providing access to education and the “American dream” for students who may not otherwise experience it. My work over the years has focused on increasing participation, success and completion for underrepresented students, low income students and students of color, while striving to meet the educational and economic needs of the community. I believe community colleges are special places where those who are passionate about equity and student success come together to transform lives.
Q: You were instrumental in transforming the developmental math curriculum at AACC. Can you describe what you were able to accomplish? How did you navigate this process? Did you face any challenges?
A: I was honored to be part of the Maryland Mathematics Reform Initiative steering committee which brought together state and national thought leaders to address the challenges Maryland students were experiencing trying to complete their credit mathematics requirements. We worked collaboratively to change the state requirements (Code of Maryland Regulations) for general education in mathematics which laid the groundwork for developing alternative mathematics pathways for students more closely aligned with their programs of study. This allowed me to work alongside my colleagues in the mathematics department at AACC to develop a statistics pathway, an alternative to the traditional college algebra/calculus pathway, which led to improved student success and completion outcomes at AACC and statewide.
These gains were particularly evidenced among students of color who had been historically overrepresented in long, developmental math course sequences with limited success. Initial challenges included working with my colleagues in mathematics across the state, who in some cases, were not in support of creating another pathway and only in favor of keeping the traditional algebra/calculus pathway. In addition, we had to work collaboratively with academic advisors, helping them to understand how the new pathway could benefit students and that not all programs required a calculus pathway.
It was a change in culture and practice across the institution and state that ultimately positively impacted student success, while shortening the time it took for our students to complete their math requirements.
Q: What advice would you give someone, especially a young girl of color, who is interested in pursuing a leadership role in higher education?
A: I originally never set out to take on a leadership role in higher education. When I began my career at AACC, I planned to secure my tenured/full professor status, research, publish and continuously develop as a teacher so that I could be the best professor possible. Someone saw leadership attributes in me that I didn’t see myself, and I was asked to lead the math department. I had never imagined this would be something I would get a chance to do in a department that had historically been chaired by white males.
I would encourage all young women to think outside the box. Seek out role models, mentors, champions and supporters who are doing what you want to do and learn from them. When you don’t see anyone who looks like you, don’t let that deter you from continuing to strive for and achieve your goals. Very soon, you will be that “leader” who has paved the way, making a difference for others that will come behind you.
Q: What are you most looking forward to as a new Philadelphia-area resident?
A: I am excited about returning in some ways to my roots. My father had family who used to live in the city and I have fond memories of visiting here in my youth. As a former dancer, violinist, and amateur singer, I am also looking forward to experiencing the incredible diversity of music, art and culture that is unique to Philly. Most importantly, I am thrilled about the opportunity to serve the City’s College alongside my amazing new colleagues as we work collectively to make a difference in the lives of Philadelphia residents.