Unity College Makes Key Hires to Support Student Experience and Continued Growth
September 20, 2021
College Positions Itself for Scalability for Decades to Come
Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury says the College is on a trajectory to eventually break the 10,000 student mark. The college’s Distance Education Program has doubled its enrollment size every year since its inception, and to support that growth Dr. Khoury has hired a team of highly sought-after leaders from around the country. These high-profile hires over the past year have been made to support projected enrollment increases, and allow for scalability well into the future.
“Scalability of this magnitude is only possible with a team of leaders who believe in our mission and are willing to take the risks necessary for true innovation,” said Dr. Khoury.
As the face of higher education rapidly evolves, America’s Environmental College is becoming more nimble in order to better support our students.
“We are serving students who are historically underserved and underrepresented in the environmental sciences and sustainability fields. We needed to put together a team with different skillsets and approaches to ensure our students get the kind of education that fits their lifestyle. Our mission is too important to let them fall behind because we were unwilling to make difficult but necessary changes,” Said Dr. Khoury.
Dr. Donavan Outten is now leading the Distance Education charge. He comes to Unity College from Webster University, where he served as Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs. Dr. Outten predicts that within the next three years the Distance Education program is projected to reach 5,000 students.
“I came to Unity because I believe deeply in the mission. The college is truly putting its students first and you can really see how that translates to enrollment. As other colleges are struggling, Unity is breaking records. For me this is the right time and right place to come in and use my expertise to help facilitate that growth, and to help build the infrastructure to sustain that growth,” said Dr. Outten.
He is joined by several other outstanding hires including Dr. Kelly Boyer Ontl, Dean of Environmental Conservation and Research. Dr. Boyer Ontl has most recently served as an Assistant Professor at Ball State University and as a faculty member of their Environmental Science Doctoral Program. She has been working in the field of primatology and wildlife conservation for 20 years. Her work has been featured nationally, including in the New York Times.
“What I’ve found during my research in Africa is that what is happening on the global scale effects all of us locally. It opened my eyes to understanding big processes throughout the world in wildlife conservation and this major connection between humans and the environment,” said Dr. Boyer Ontl.
Now, Dr. Boyer Ontl is bringing that experience to Unity College and her goal is to graduate thousands of environmental superheroes every year.
“I love that all of the programs are centered around environmental science education, and that we are creating the next environmental stewards to go out and save the world. I am excited about working with students who are passionate about making a difference. Now, it is our job to create an experience that allows our students to do that.”
Unity College is already well on the way to becoming more accessible and flexible than ever before. That flexibility and affordability has helped the college grow its self-disclosed multicultural student population from a 50 year average of 8% to 20% over a two year period. The average student age has also grown and is now 28, which is up from a historical average of 19.
It’s those groups that energize and motivate Dean of Concierge Services Dana Bosse every day.
Bosse says, “I love the student population that we work with. I find them to be a very eager group of individuals who are passionate about getting an education, even though that means having to juggle family, work, and school. It’s a tricky thing to do and to have a population that consistently does that is so impressive to me.”
Bosse came to Unity College after spending more than a decade working in college admissions. Her team of concierges works closely with incoming students, answering questions about specific programs, how financial aid works, possible career outcomes, and the status of their application.
“We’ve put together an unbelievable team that truly cares about our students. They are hard workers, they believe in the mission and they take pride in every single person they are able to help start college,” said Bosse.
Helping Distance Education students get from point A to point B once they begin their courses is Dean of Retention and Completion Denise Young and her team of advisors. Young comes to Unity College from York County Community College where she worked in academic affairs for over a decade specializing in prior learning assessment, internships, and academic partnerships. Her team of professional advisors helps students with scheduling, tutoring resources, financial aid, and anything else they may need throughout their educational journey.
“It’s important that we provide clear pathways to completion for our students. Our flexible, year-round model is designed to allow students to take courses anytime that works for them, and it’s critical that we provide them the [individual] support they need,” said Young.