Associate provost receives leadership fellowship


Photo by: Kyle Graham

Dr. Alissa Warters will spend part of this academic school year at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to conduct research on administration departments in higher education.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, Dr. Alissa Warters, associate provost for academic affairs and enrollment management, is one of 46 collegiate administrators nationwide to be chosen for the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Fellowship Program.

The organization is considered an advocate for higher education through conducting research and enacting new policies. As part of its goal of bettering educational systems, ACE sponsors a leadership development program each academic year that allows college-level administrators to explore new opportunities by working with other colleges and universities throughout the U.S.

With the help of FMU President Dr. Fred Carter, Warters was able to apply for this year’s fellowship program.

“Dr. Carter basically got the process going for me,” Warters said. “I wouldn’t have been able to apply without him nominating me. After his nomination, I had to complete an extensive application for the program and was required to attend several rounds of interviews in Washington, D.C.”

According to Warters, once she received her acceptance into the program, she was assigned the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) as her host university, where she will spend several weeks throughout the year conducting research. Warters said that she is required to spend at least 12 weeks of the academic year acting as an employee of UNCW.

“I’m splitting up my required time at UNCW, and while I’m there, I am expected to act as an employee both at UNCW and FMU,” Warters said. “I basically get to observe what different administration departments are doing at UNCW, and I get to learn about different policies that other universities are following.”

Warters said that the purpose of this program is for administrators to grow personally and professionally, but another important aspect of the fellowship is the opportunity for universities nationwide to share information and ideas.

“This program is partly for administrators to hone their skills in higher-end administration,” Warters said. “It’s also important, though, for professionals of different colleges and universities to be swapping ideas about what works and what doesn’t work in terms of different procedures or policies.”

In order for the fellows to get the most out of the experience, they are required to work under a mentor at their home universities and at their “host” universities. Warters said that she is working closely with Carter and with UNCW’s provost. While she is working at UNCW, Warters will be attending and observing various meetings, recruitment trips, workshops and other events.

As part of the fellowship program, each ACE fellow is expected to conduct research on a project of his or her choice. During the application process, each applicant was required to present a brief overview of the desired project topic for approval. Warters said that her proposed project focuses on a succession plan for administrative positions.

According to Warters, this project will study and propose ways in which universities can have set plans of succession for professional roles. She said when there is a shift in administration positions, caused by employees leaving their work or retiring, it can often be difficult to quickly and effectively train a new professional for the job. According to Warters, her research project will explore methods for administration offices to have professionals already trained in case a worker leaves.

“Often times, if a person leaves a position for some reason, like retirement or new job opportunities, there may be question over who will take over that person’s responsibilities,” Warters said. “There can also be difficulty with training a new employee quickly, so my project will discuss ways we can avoid those difficulties by having a succession plan in motion.”

Warters has already spent two weeks at UNCW and said that she is looking forward to her remaining time.

“It’s already been a mutual learning experience, and I’m excited for the rest of my time researching at UNCW,” Warters said. “I’ve already been getting to do things professionally that I never would have been able to do on my own, and I’m looking forward to take what I’ve learned from the administrators at UNCW and apply it to my work here at FMU.”