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The University has appointed Dr. Michelle Brown, who has successfully led academic support services with student-athletes at Florida Atlantic University, as director of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA), effective May 6, following a national search.

The ASPSA staff serves nearly 800 student-athletes. Staff include four associate directors, a learning specialist, a reading, writing and learning specialist, five academic counselors, and a tutor coordinator. They are joined by six part-time learning assistants and 57 part-time tutors.

Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, and Bobbi Owen, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, in the College of Arts and Sciences, made the announcement in a campus email.

Brown has more than 15 years of experience working with student-athletes, most since 2005 as director of the Student-Athlete Center for Academic Excellence and associate athletic director for academics and student services at Florida Atlantic University. She has demonstrated strong leadership skills, spearheaded several new initiatives and implemented a data-driven approach in encouraging the academic and personal well-being of student-athletes, Carney and Owen wrote.

Brown earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies and French with magna cum laude honors in 1992 at West Virginia University, where she played Division I volleyball on scholarship. She earned a certificate in French at the Université de Paris, Sorbonne. While pursuing her master’s degree in French/Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), she received a second certificate in French from the Université du Quebéc à Chicoutimi. She completed her Ed. D. in higher education administration at Florida Atlantic in 2002.

Brown’s perspective as an academic and administrator who has competed as a student-athlete makes her an excellent fit for UNC, Carney and Owen wrote.

“She has the professional and personal experiences to work effectively with our faculty, administrators, student-athletes, and athletic department colleagues,” they wrote. “Her hiring marks a significant milestone toward making the changes in the ASPSA that Chancellor Thorp announced last August as part of the campus-wide steps we have taken to strengthen the relationship between academics and athletics.”

Thorp then emphasized the opportunity to move forward in ASPSA with a fresh perspective, building on his conversations involving College of Arts and Sciences Dean Karen Gil, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham, and the Board of Trustees.

When Brown arrives, ASPSA will move to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost from the College of Arts and Sciences, where the program has been housed since the early 1980s.

“This change reflects the important role that ASPSA plays in advancing the academic mission of the entire University, as well as the recommended growth in the program resulting from a strategic planning process completed in 2011,” Carney and Owen wrote.

Brown will report to the provost, the University’s chief academic officer, and will convene the Provost’s Roundtable, a working group that will bring together colleagues from across the campus who are responsible for fostering the academic success of student-athletes.

The shift in reporting responsibility definitively addresses the proper separation of academic and athletic responsibilities for student-athletes because the provost is ultimately responsible for academic oversight across the entire campus, Carney and Owen wrote.

The University’s plans for the ASPSA already had been informed by ideas from the faculty and were consistent with recommendations for all UNC campuses in the 2011 Task Force on Academics and Athletics report commissioned by President Tom Ross. President Ross since directed all UNC chancellors to take steps to ensure that academic support services and tutoring for student-athletes are under the purview and responsibility of Academic Affairs or another appropriate unit outside the athletic department.

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Published March 19, 2013.