After working in a new field of business, Virginia Smith has returned to Oklahoma Christian University as the Associate Chief Academic Officer for Student Success.
Smith left Oklahoma Christian in 2012 to pursue a new project which Smith said gave her the experience she needed to prepare for her new position at Oklahoma Christian.
“My job is more centered on retention as a whole and looking at all sorts of options that fall underneath it, whether that means different means of instructional delivery or different support services like the Bridge Program,” Smith said.
Smith returned to Oklahoma Christian with her husband Pat Smith, an associate professor of science and engineering.
“We both just made the decision together that this is where we wanted to come back to,” Smith said. “We really love working with students and having students at home and mentoring. This job gave us that opportunity.”
Associate Director of Student Success, Lannea Pemberton, said she looks forward to having Smith back in the Bridge Program.
“Dr. Smith did a great thing when she started the program,” Pemberton said. “She created something that has allowed students to not only get through college, but to thrive here at OC and surpass their own expectations.”
The Bridge Program was originally led by Smith when she worked at Oklahoma Christian, and she said she is excited to see its current success with students.
“It was born out of a heart of love for others,” Smith said. “It was donor-supported in its initial interactions. That just shows how much people love the students at OC, in my opinion.”
The Bridge Program provides mentorship and guidance to students struggling academically.
“I love watching students succeed; I have watched students go from doubting themselves to graduating and going into successful careers,” Pemberton said.
As the previous director of the Bridge Program, Smith said she still continues to take part in its mission.
“In a way, I am still very much associated with the Bridge Program which I love and it is part of what I still do,” Smith said.
Pemberton said she has enjoyed working with Smith in the past on the Bridge Program and looks forward to the Bridge Program continuing on campus.
“I am looking forward to seeing how the program is able to grow and better serve our students in the future,” Pemberton said.
Smith said Oklahoma Christian is a place she could not wait to come back to.
“The absolute best thing about Oklahoma Christian is the people,” Smith said. “I can say that without hesitation because I came back and immediately those old relationships were brought back to life.”
Smith said she has always had a passion for people and her relationships at Oklahoma Christian help her appreciate her job even more.
“We say the term ‘Oklahoma Christian is home’ here, and it really does feel like it,” Smith said. “When you feel like you’re home, you’re with your family, and you are safe and with people who have the same goals as you do, and that is why I came back here to Oklahoma Christian.”
Being back at Oklahoma Christian, Smith said she plans to pour into as many students as she can. Smith will continue to work on helping students succeed on campus.