Supporting student success
These staff members are helping students succeed—from their first days on campus through to graduation.
From assisting students in obtaining financial aid and helping first-year students navigate their degree requirements, to providing access to tutoring help and internships, there are unsung heroes across campus at La Salle.
Across a number of functional areas, they are helping Explorers persevere through their respective degree programs and cross the stage at Commencement each May at McCarthy Stadium.
These staff members—along with faculty colleagues—support La Salle students from all disciplines and help them go from full-time pupils to alumni who are pursuing their careers by connecting them to invaluable resources, mentorship, and support.
Get to know a few of the critical staff members at the University:
Phenix Frazer Badmus, M. Ed.
Executive Director of the Center for Academic Achievement
A 1998 Fullbright Scholar and graduate of the George Washington University, the self-proclaimed “College Success Professor,” Phenix Frazier Badmus spends her days mentoring, coaching, and advising La Salle’s students. Frazier Badmus has had a long career in education including more than a decade at La Salle. In her role directing the Center for Academic Achievement, housed in the Lawrence Center and within the Office of the Provost, she and her staff help get students connected to academic services and resources on campus that will help them find success.
“Because I have been at the university for so many years, I have many stories of students who contact me online or come back to campus and share with me their many successes in their careers or families,” she said. “That is truly what is so fulfilling about my work. I often meet students early in their academic careers, and you don’t always get to see what, if any, the impact is that you make with all of them. So it is personally meaningful when they tell me what working with me or being in my class as a freshman meant to them and their trajectory through life.”
Director of Bilingual Undergraduate Studies for Collegiate Advancement (BUSCA)
After 15 years teaching Spanish, Reading, and English as a Second Language, Joanne Woods, M.A. ’14, joined La Salle in 2010. As the Director of Bilingual Undergraduate Students for Collegiate Advancement (BUSCA) Program, Woods supports native Spanish speakers as they complete their associate degrees at La Salle while improving their English language skills along with a team of people who support students with any academic, financial, or personal issues they may face during their studies. In 2015, the White House named La Salle’s BUSCA program one of the country’s Bright Spots in Hispanic Education.
The majority of the students in the BUSCA program work full-time jobs while attending classes at night. In her role as program director, Woods helps students with a myriad of challenges that the students face on a day-to-day basis.
“The dedication of our students, staff, and instructors in BUSCA keeps me motivated on a daily basis,” Woods said. “They work so hard and give so much, it makes it easy to match their energy. Just about every week, we help a student overcome an obstacle that makes the extra time and effort we all put in worthwhile. When I checked in with students about their grades at the end of the fall semester, it was very touching how many students replied thanking us for helping them resolve a financial aid problem, getting them in touch with a tutor to improve their grades, motivating them when they were exhausted, or checking in when they were sick to help them make up work, and more. They were all things we had forgotten we had done over the course of the semester but they had remembered because these things can make a difference when people are feeling overwhelmed.”
Kristen Garry, MBA ’22
Assistant Dean for Student Success
Kristen Garry, MBA ’22, joined La Salle in 2016 after working as an insurance broker in employee benefits. In her role as assistant dean for student success, Garry works with La Salle undergraduates in the School of Business, guiding them as they strive to meet their graduation requirements and advising them in their studies.
“Anytime I can help a student solve a problem, as little as it may be, I feel a sense of satisfaction,” she said. “I really do love my job and working with our students, and I feel like this is the job I was meant to have. In college, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do (in my career) afterward. I learned that the insurance industry was not for me; it got too competitive. I feel like this job is a good balance of what my capabilities and strengths are. It challenges me at times and I truly do like going to work each day.”
Penelope Grob, M.S.
Director of the Business Scholars Co-op Program
After 17 years with the University, it’s clear Penelope Grob, M.S., means business. As director of the Business Scholars Co-Op Program and the School of Business liaison to the Career Center, Grob works one-on-one with the business scholars to prepare for and find real-world work experience. Grob connects students with co-op opportunities and full time jobs as well as with alumni as they work to find their next step after graduation.
“I consider myself both mentor and connector because I maintain relationships with our alumni who have gone through the program, and I have them work with our current students though out their time as undergraduates,” she said. “It is extremely rewarding to see these young people, many of them coming to La Salle as freshmen, and watch their progression from 18-year-olds to young professionals who are entering the work world with so much confidence and comprehension.”
Brother Robert “Bob” Kinzler, F.S.C., ’77
Assistant Vice President of Ministry, Service, and Support
Students know Brother Bob as a supportive member the La Salle community to whom they can turn. Leading University Ministry, Support, and Service (UMSS) since 2005, he has helped create an inviting space for Explorers outside of the classroom. UMSS, Brother Bob said, provides a platform for students to explore the big questions: “Who am I? Whose am I? And how will I be in the world?” This can occur through traditional religious practices, like Mass, retreats, and bible study, and also through meditation and other soul-searching activities in an environment that is open to students from all religious affiliations and backgrounds. Other students use this space to figure out who they will be to others through service and advocacy activities, and immersion trips.
UMSS is also responsible for helping students combat challenges that can affect academic performance, such as food insecurity, housing insecurity, transportation issues, and more. The campus organization assists through operation of a food pantry, partnerships to provide housing, and a student emergency fund.
Students arrive at Brother Bob’s campus space often because they have met temporary hardship, whether rooted in their health, finances, or other factors. Brother Bob and UMSS work with these students to ensure they are supported and their needs are met.
“The issues facing students today are complicated and some institutions have drawn a line—we educate you, but the rest is dependent upon the student. La Salle University, following the example of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, understands that education is about the whole person. Faculty and staff here walk the walk. They are always an inspiration to me,” said Brother Bob.
Academic Support and Student Success
Seeing students reach their greatest potential is top priority for the University’s Academic Support and Student Success division.
Under the auspices of the Office of the Provost, the division reaches all students through a variety of different services and programming. These include through Student Success Coaches, within La Salle’s Center for Academic Achievement.
“Student Success Coaches work with first-year students in their transition to life in college and building of skills to obtain their personal, academic, and career goals,” said Daniel Reginald S. “Reg” Kim, lead student success coach and lecturer in the Department of Religion and Theology. “We invite students into a collaborative, reflective space where they can detect and overcome obstacles in their college journeys, make the most of their college experiences, and develop lifelong skills for success.”
Coaches are trained and certified to talk through eight focus areas to identify their strengths and opportunities for growth. These include: balancing commitments, health and support, commitment to graduation, community, academics, career, finances, and effectiveness.
“At the heart of student success coaching is the Lasallian mission to teach the whole person,” Kim said. “Our coaching meetings, while directed to earning academic success, presume that the life a student has outside of the classroom impacts the student’s ability within. So we talk about managing commitments, connecting to the campus community, and other aspects of being a college-age person. As we discuss these areas, we work together to identify actions steps to help them reach their goals.”
Kim loves meeting with students and connecting with them on shared experiences.
Becoming a part of an Explorer’s support system is common for those who work in Academic Support and Student Success.
Christine Cahill, director of academic support for student-athletes, remains in contact with students long after they have graduated and has gotten to celebrate milestones including weddings and baby showers. Cahill, along with Katelyn Lanzilotta, the associate director of academic support for student-athletes, works with Explorers to help balance academic commitments with the demands of their Division I sports.
“What I love most is seeing the growth of students in their time at La Salle,” Lanzilotta said. “It’s somewhat uncommon in education to witness the start-to-finish experience of a student while also seeing them day-to-day.”
The department also supports the Academic Discovery Program (ADP), a scholarship opportunity at the University supported in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Students in the program must be from Philadelphia and display a high financial need. ADP students at La Salle receive financial aid and a range of support services across all four years, beginning with a mandatory six-week summer bridge program taken prior to their first-year. Teresa McKnight, ADP’s director, and Anyaé Broomer, assistant director for student success, witness and support the development of La Salle’s ADP students.
“We love assisting ADP students with discovering their full potential while on their academic journey,” McKnight said. “Providing them with support and helping them identify and operate in their gifts and talents is most rewarding.”
As Kim puts it, Student Success Coaches are there to be the support behind every student.
“I like to use the analogy of being that character common in superhero movies of ‘the voice in the chair,’ who is able to see the big picture and to help them anticipate upcoming challenges,” Kim said. “It’s the superhero who does all the work but I’m here to offer a broad knowledge base of resources and experiences that they can use to ‘save the day.’”