Inside Rensselaer
* Lisa Trahan
Lisa Trahan Named Assistant Vice President for the Student Experience

Lisa Trahan, former dean of the first-year experience and interim director of residence life at Rensselaer, has been appointed to the newly created position of assistant vice president for the student experience in the Division of Student Life.

In her new role, Trahan will have primary responsibility for the oversight, planning, creation, and development of programs and activities that will further enhance the student experience, including undergraduate, transfer, and graduate students.

“Helping students to become global citizens — and global leaders — is a prime focus of Rensselaer’s initiatives,” said Eddie Ade Knowles, vice president for student life. “Already through the implementation of The Rensselaer Plan, there have been significant changes at Rensselaer that have made the student experience livelier and more engaging. I am pleased to have Lisa serve in this newly created position as it represents Rensselaer’s focused commitment to providing a world-class undergraduate and graduate experience that will continue to attract talented and promising young people who will change the world.”

Trahan’s additional responsibilities will include working with Knowles to establish the Class Dean model as an extension of the First-Year Experience, collaborating with the academic portfolios to provide leadership and assistance with the development and implementation of the internationalizing the student experience initiative, and overseeing the development of programs and services for graduate students, among others.

Currently, Trahan also serves as chair of the Intervention Team, a multidisciplinary group of faculty and staff responsible for the development of campuswide strategies to increase the “safety net” and student retention initiatives.

“I am truly honored to serve Student Life and Rensselaer in this newly created position that demonstrates a commitment to student success from their earliest point of contact with Rensselaer,” said Trahan. “I look forward to taking the programs that we have developed for the First-Year Experience and extending them to the overall student population in an effort to provide all students with experiential, residential, and recreational environments that embrace them and connect them with Rensselaer for life.”

“This year, Rensselaer’s first-to-second-year retention rate for undergraduate students reached a new plateau of 95 percent, in part due to Lisa’s unwavering commitment to excellence in collaboration with the academic and administration portfolios,” Knowles added. “Last year, as a result of the retirement of the director of residence life, Lisa’s responsibilities were expanded with her appointment to the vacant position as interim director. She has successfully guided the programs, services, and planning within Residence Life while continuing to provide leadership for our award winning First-Year Experience.”

Trahan and her staff’s efforts have resulted in 12 awards, since 2001, from the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) in several categories related to the quality of the First-Year Experience initiative. In 2007, Rensselaer was awarded the National Association for Student Personnel Administration (NASPA) coveted Gold Award of Excellence as a “Best Practice” for its Student Orientation, First-Year Experience, and Parent’s Programs.

Trahan joined Rensselaer in 1997, first serving as assistant dean of students in charge of student orientation and family programs. Since then, she has been appointed to several positions including associate dean of students and judicial administrator, through which she provided management, policy development, and oversight of Rensselaer’s student judicial system; and later the newly created position of dean of the first-year experience that involved creating and implementing the First-Year Student Experience, Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond (NRB), and Family Programs.

Prior to joining Rensselaer, Trahan held several positions at the State University of New York at Brockport and the State University at Albany, including serving as a residence hall director, assistant for summer planning conferences and orientation, coordinator of quadrangle education and development, and assistant director of residence life.

Trahan holds a B.S. in elementary education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, an M.S. in student personnel administration from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the University at Albany, School of Education.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 18, October 31, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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