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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

Cynthia Payne appointed as new College assistant dean for student success

By Dave Larsen

The University of Dayton College of Arts and Sciences has appointed Cynthia Payne as the new assistant dean for student success. Cynthia joined the University staff in 2016 as assistant director for academic success in the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center. She will begin her new role March 2.

Payne succeeds Aaron Witherspoon, who was appointed as director of University advising initiatives in September. During his five years in the College's Office of the Dean, Witherspoon led a wide range of student success and persistence initiatives, including close collaboration with College faculty on the Student Success Network. He also was a leader of the STEM Summer Bridge Program, in partnership with the School of Engineering.

Payne will be responsible for oversight of the College’s Discover programs and General Studies, and serve as the primary contact for the College’s work to support multicultural students. She will be the primary support for about 60 students, working in collaboration with the College’s three other assistant deans: Kim Trick, Cindy Shafer and Verb Washington.

“Cynthia brings to this role experience in professional advising and success in coaching, teaching and recruiting multicultural students, and in building infrastructure to support student success across all backgrounds,” said Danielle Poe, College associate dean for curriculum and academic outcomes.

Payne has 10 years of academic advising experience at UD, Butler University and the University of Kentucky. During the fall 2018 and 2019 semesters, she taught ASI 160 to first-year students in the Discover Arts program, and also served as an academic advisor to those Discover students.

“Her work with the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center (MEC) over the past three years and as an instructor for Discover Arts students means that she is a familiar face to students, faculty and staff throughout the College,” Poe said. “These relationships and experiences will be invaluable to our team and our ability to support students as they discover their vocation, build their skills and find their voices.”

In MEC, Payne conducted outreach to more than 1,300 multicultural students concerning academic resources, and provided programming and support related to students' academic success. She also served on a number of University committees and groups to ensure the multicultural student perspective was represented and considered.

“Whether it be withdrawing from a class, changing majors, considering graduate programs or coming up with strategies for the best way to approach faculty with questions, I do my best to connect students with resources and help them think through all kinds of situations that impact their academic experience,” Payne said.

“It is important to recognize that marginalized populations on this campus might navigate UD in a different way than those who come from backgrounds of privilege. I believe it is my responsibility to support multicultural students however I can, to be a voice at tables to ensure all students and their realities are considered in decisions, and to empower my colleagues to be intentional about considering the journey of all students in their work.”

Payne also will serve as the College’s liaison to strategic campus partners — including MEC, the divisions of enrollment management student development, and the offices of learning resources, career services, and diversity and inclusion — to create a continuous stream of support for students from admission through graduation.

Payne holds a Master of Arts degree in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University, and a bachelor’s in psychology from Butler University.

Assistant Dean Trick, who is also a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, chaired the search committee. Committee members also included Assistant Dean Shafer; Bill Trollinger, professor of history; and Daria Graham, associate dean of students and executive director of the MEC.

For more information, visit the College of Arts and Sciences website.

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