The Division of Student Affairs is comprised of 13 departments that offer services and programming to students and provide support to faculty, staff, and parents and families.  

The Mission and Goals of Student Affairs builds on the University’s Mission regarding engaged citizenship, life-long learning, leadership, and intercultural competencies. Student Affairs provides intentional co-curricular experiences to support academic learning.

Collaborate to create a vibrant student-centered environment supporting student learning, engagement, service, and leadership while preparing students to contribute to a global society.

Create a culture of care and support for all students which empowers them to take an active and influential role in their collegiate experience.

Cultivate opportunities to enrich the student experience and the University’s rich traditions in celebration of diversity, service, life-long learning, and Spartan Pride! Serve as wise stewards of University resources.

The Division of Student Affairs supports the mission of the University by providing high-quality student services and programs that promote student success and ultimately contribute to student retention and graduation. This plan outlines five major priority areas for Student Affairs for the years 2024-2027. Each of the five priority areas also contains a more detailed goal. Finally, annual strategies are developed for each goal. These strategies serve as a roadmap for our work in the specified academic year.

GOAL: Create initiatives that utilize evidence-based practices and data to develop programs that support and impact career readiness and student success (measured by student learning, persistence, and graduation).

Strategies for AY 24-25:

  1. Provide support to the Mellon Foundation Grant through service on the new Humanities at Work core leadership team and the development of new community partnerships for future internship sites.
  2. Integrate the Spartan Ready program fully into the student employment office operations, both structurally and programmatically so that all campus supervisors receive guidance on the program directly from the Student Employment Office.
  3. Monitor CHANCE Camp participant outcomes annually, with the goal being to have 60% of campers apply to UNCG and 80% who enroll be retained through graduation.
  4. Explore implementation of NASPA’s Undergraduate Fellow Program, which provides undergraduate students with opportunities to explore careers in Student Affairs.
  5. Develop operational guidelines for how surveys are administered, shared out and used for continued improvement.
  6. Develop a hazing prevention program plan to be implemented annually by Campus Activities and Programs.
  7. Launch the Spartan Family portal.
  8. Appoint a First Destination Survey workgroup to identify strategies to increase student participation, thus increasing knowledge about what students do after graduation.
  9. Develop a benchmark study of Job Location Development programs at peer institutions and propose a plan for implementation at UNCG.

GOAL: Provide intentional and varied opportunities for students to engage on campus and in the community.

Strategies for AY 24-25:

  1. Implement all five competency areas of the Spartan Experience.
  2. Implement the G-Fluencers initiative, as a way of using peers to encourage student engagement via social media.
  3. Implement a comprehensive marketing strategy for Spartan Experience that includes social media, video, digital screens, and an incentive system.
  4. Work with NSTFYE to ensure programming aligns with the Spartan Experience and allows more students to earn SE credit.
  5. The engagement team will create a strategy for how to encourage students who are engaging in their experiences to advance to another level/experience.

GOAL: Promote a safe, affirming, and inclusive campus climate for students that fosters belonging and student success.

Strategies for AY 24-25:

  1. Further expand the number and duration of the iBelong grants by putting a call for proposals out in fall 24.
  2. Host a speaker for a faculty/staff dialogue that addresses the topic of student belonging and success.
  3. Convene an election year workgroup.
  4. Complete a comprehensive review of DEI related programs for compliance with new system policy.
  5. Explore a program for graduation cap and gown donation for students in need.

GOAL: Promote the comprehensive health, wellness, and safety of all students within the context of a culture of care.

Strategies for AY 24-25:

  1. In conjunction with the QEP Committee, support the completion of goals established for the QEP:
    1. Establish a baseline percentage of the First-Time in College (FTIC) cohort’s engagement with campus resources to support their personal well-being during the 2024-25 academic year (e.g., usage statistics of campus wellness facilities, attendance at wellness workshops, or appointments with campus health services, etc.)
    1. Track completion of the Spartan Experience Well-Being Competency at the Foundational Level for FTIC students. Compare FTIC completion rates to overall student population. (every year for 5 years)
  2. Initiate a multi-year agreement with the JED Foundation to assess campus needs, develop a customized strategic plan, and implement tools, strategies, and techniques that lead to measurable improvements in student mental health and a more connected community.
  3. Finalize and post an annual schedule for the administration of all well-being assessments.
  4. Implement a plan to increase awareness of the SAFE (emergency) fund.
  5. Host a faculty fellow to assist us with enhancing our programming and support for veteran student well-being.

GOAL: Promote responsible stewardship of human, fiscal, and physical resources to maximize our opportunity for organizational success.

Strategies for AY 24-25:

  1. Develop strategies to respond to the changing workforce issues in Student Affairs.
  2. Administer the staff iBelong Survey.
  3. Utilize new contract/resource opportunities with EAB by establishing an agenda for quarterly calls, reviewing available resources, and engaging broader staff in professional development opportunities.
  4. Identify opportunities for AI education for Division employees.
  5. Hire a new Director of Student Health Services and Director of Student Affairs Research and Strategic Initiatives.
  6. Replace all student room furniture in Spencer’s Honor’s College Residence Hall and living room furniture in all suites and apartments in Jefferson Suites and Tower Village Apartments.
  7. Replace the elevator in Moore/Strong Residence Hall.
  8. Convene a group to discuss the possibility of expanding our use of the StrengthsFinder.
  9. Develop a divisional marketing plan, which will include website reviews, major campaigns and marketing materials, social media calendar, and Campus Weekly stories.
  10. Review division’s IT structure and business needs and develop a plan for future sustainability.
  11. Complete departmental reviews according to 5-year schedule.


Dr. Cathy Akens is the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UNC Greensboro, a role she has held since January 2018. In this role, she leads a team who oversee a wide array of programs and services that focus on impacting student success and learning through the co-curricular experience. Her work in Student Affairs focuses on the areas of student well-being, student engagement, and campus climate and inclusion. Dr. Akens has regularly taught graduate courses in the areas of student development, campus crisis management and contemporary issues in higher education. She has been engaged in professional service and scholarship throughout her career. She has authored several book chapters and co-edited the book College Students and Their Environments, which explores how universities create culturally inclusive and engaging communities.

Before joining UNCG, Dr. Akens held positions as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Assistant Vice President, and Director of Residential Life at Florida International University. She held other positions in residential life at both FIU and Bowling Green State University.
Dr. Akens earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Toledo and a master’s degree in college and university administration from Michigan State University. Her doctorate in higher education is from Florida International University. Throughout her career in Higher Education and Student Affairs Dr. Akens has established herself as a dedicated advocate for students, and a proven leader and mentor.

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Dr. Brett Carter is the Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students at UNC Greensboro. He has been involved in higher education for over 30 years. He is responsible for a wide range of Student Affairs functions including the Dean of Students Office, Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Offices of Accessibility Resources and Services, Military-Affiliated Services, Counseling Center, Campus Recreation and Wellness, and Student Health Services. He has a long history of diverse work experiences with student housing, judicial and academic integrity programs, student support services, first-year experience programs, and crisis management. Dr. Carter also oversees student policy development and co-chairs the Behavioral Assessment Team (BAT). His hobbies include golfing, camping, and hiking.

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Dr. Adrienne Craig is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. In this role, she provides leadership for Campus Activities & Programs, Career & Professional Development, Elliott University Center, the Office of Intercultural Engagement, and the Office of Leadership & Civic Engagement. Previously, she served as the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Columbus State University (Ga.) She has over 16 years of experience working in various facets of Student Affairs and is passionate about developing student leaders, having created campus-wide leadership programs at multiple universities. Dr. Craig is a member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Dr. Craig earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Old Dominion University and a master’s degree from Virginia Tech. She earned her doctorate in Leadership & Innovation from Wilmington University. 

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336.334.5099 |

Nicole Merritt is the Associate Director of Student & Family Engagement. In this role, Nicole oversees UNCG’s student engagement platform, parent/family communications and initiatives, and UNCG’s co-curriculum program, the Spartan Experience. Nicole has worked in higher education in admissions at Greensboro College and UNCG previously, and is excited to work more with current Spartans. Nicole is pursuing her Ph.D. in Educational Studies with a concentration in Higher Education and has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English from UNCG. Nicole is a member of American College Personal Association and Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority. Nicole also serves as a faculty advisor for two student groups: the Graduate Student Association and Tri Sigma. Outside of work Nicole enjoys reading and playing with her pet dog and gerbils.

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Ashley Baynes joined UNCG in 2019 in the Office of Intercultural Engagement before joining the Division office in March 2021. As the Business Officer, Ashley is responsible for the overall management of business operations in the Division office. Before joining UNCG, Ashley worked in the telecommunications industry in management and HR roles for over 14 years, and she is passionate about connecting people with the information they need to succeed. In her free time, Ashley enjoys cooking, baking, painting, reading, and spending time with her partner Eric and their children Harper and Auggie.

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Katelyn Smith joined UNCG in April 2019 as the Administrative Support Associate for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics before joining the Division of Student Affairs in January 2022. As the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor, she provides administrative support to Dr. Cathy Akens, Dr. Brett Carter, and Dr. Adrienne Craig. Prior to UNCG, Katelyn trained horses professionally in the sport of Dressage for seven years. She graduated from Appalachian State University with degrees in Marketing and Business Management. Outside of work, Katelyn enjoys growing flowers, riding horses, and spending time with her family, friends, and three dogs.

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As the Division’s graphic designer, Gretchen Pugh creates print and digital promotional materials for major events, initiatives, and services for departments within Student Affairs, including the Division office. Gretchen earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design at Longwood College in Virginia. A standout golf student-athlete for the Lancers, Gretchen is an NCAA All-American and a Longwood Hall-of-Fame inductee. 

336.256.1433 |

My primary responsibility in this role is to provide administrative support to the Vice Chancellor and Associate Vice Chancellors within the Division of Student Affairs. Additionally, this role will provide support for the staff in the Office of the Vice Chancellor and manage the front office and day-to-day duties associated with assisting, greeting guests, and planning various divisional activities. 

As an accomplished executive assistant with a MS degree from Nova Southeastern University, I thrive in fast-paced environments, providing seamless support to C-suite executives. With a keen eye for detail and a proactive approach, I ensure executives can stay focused on strategic decision-making. I am committed to enhancing productivity, streamlining processes, and contributing to the success of the Division of Student Affairs. Let’s connect and explore how I can support your team!

I am new to the Greensboro area, relocating from Miami, where I stayed for 15 years. I look forward to checking off my list of trails here in North Carolina.

336.334.5099 |


Student Affairs Organizational Chart
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