ACS Outstanding Student
“The more I have experienced and studied other sectors of higher education, the more I value my undergraduate liberal arts experience,” says Ph.D. student Lauren Collier. An alumna of Birmingham-Southern College, Lauren is using her undergraduate experience at an ACS school to shape her dissertation research at UGA.
Current degree objective at UGA:
Ph.D. Candidate, Institute of Higher Education
Prior to coming to UGA:
Lauren served as the first Executive Director of South Carolina Campus Compact. She started the Center for Civic Engagement at the College of Charleston where she supported faculty, facilitated campus/community partnerships, developed co-curricular service programs, and taught in Women’s Studies and the First Year Experience. She earned an MSW from the University of Alabama, a BS from Birmingham-Southern College, and has worked in the non-profit sector and taught English in a college in Hungary.
University highlights, achievements, and awards:
Lauren is the 2012 recipient of the Louise McBee Scholarship from the Georgia Association of Women in Higher Education. The scholarship provides educational enrichment for women exhibiting leadership potential in the field. Lauren developed a leadership-training curriculum for the American Council on Education’s Office of Women in Higher Education to assist women faculty members and mid-level administrators in building skills and refining self-presentation to move into higher levels of administration.
Lauren is also a recipient of the University of Georgia Presidential Fellowship and currently serves as the President of the Higher Education Student Society.
What made you choose to do your Ph.D. at UGA?
“After working in higher education for a few years, I knew that it was the right career path for me. The Institute of Higher Education holds a prominent position in the field, renowned faculty, and the right mix of policy, administration, and research for me. I feel like UGA has an especially strong reputation in the Southeast, where I hope to stay (or at least end up). It does not hurt that Athens is a great university town!”
Have you participated in any internships or field experiences while at UGA?
“I am currently a graduate assistant in the Office of the President and have worked as a research assistant for the Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs and a graduate assistant with the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach and the Office of Service-Learning. Each role has provided exposure to campus-wide administrative processes and projects.”
What are your current research interests?
“I am interested in the niche that Liberal Arts Colleges hold in higher education and the ways that they operate which differ from larger universities. For my dissertation, I am studying the expansion of academic courses of study, co-curricular programs, student services, and facilities of the colleges of the ACS from the mid-1980s through the new millennium.”
How did you decide to study the ACS as a part of your dissertation research?
“The more I have experienced and studied other sectors of higher education, the more I value my undergraduate liberal arts experience. Despite their exceptional learning outcomes, liberal arts colleges have been especially hard-hit by the economic downturn. I hope to learn something about how to maximize their organizational efficiency without jeopardizing learning so that they may continue to thrive moving forward.”
What are some of your favorite things to do on campus or around Athens?
“Athens is small in that it is easy to navigate, but has enough activity and diversity to keep things stimulating. UGA provides a range of options: I have tailgated and cheered on the Dawgs and attended international caliber performances at the Performing Arts Center. Off campus, the Globe is the quintessential graduate pub – it is perfect for conversations with friends, peers, and professors. I enjoy running the trails at Sandy Creek, ambling through the Botanical Garden, and brunch at Mama’s Boy and Big City Bread. The lawn of Terrapin Brewery provides the perfect cross section of locals, students, live music, and local brews. For a live-action glimpse of the personality of the place, go to the Halloween and Christmas parades!”