IU Southeast Magazine - Summer 2014 - page 30

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Jason Meriwether, Vice Chancellor for
Enrollment Management and Student
Affairs at IU Southeast, is not one to let
obstacles get in his way.
Meriwether seems always to been
driven to pursue the things that are
important to him. He grew up in the
small town of Guthrie, Ky., on his
family’s farm land near the Tennessee
border. With the support of a life-
changing high school teacher, Kay Scott
and a full academic scholarship to the
University of Louisville, he was able to
pursue a college education.
He earned a B.A. in Communication
from the University of Louisville
and a master’s in Psychology at
Fisk University in Nashville, and is
presently pursuing a doctoral in higher
education administration at Indiana
State University. He’s also a social
media advocate who writes a column
for Socialnomics.net and has published
and presented nationally on student
retention and persistence and hazing.
Meriwether joined the leadership
team at IU Southeast in July 2013
(previously, he was Vice President for
Student Engagement at Fisk and led
Student Housing operations at Loyola
Marymount University in California).
“My priority is to create an environment
where college students can thrive,”
he said. “Our academic programs are
great, but it’s vitally important that
we also offer students great learning
and social experiences outside of the
traditional classroom.”
To achieve that, Meriwether and his
staff offer a variety of services. The
Career Development office works with
area employers to develop internships
that supplement classwork with
practical experience. Student Affairs
offers life-skills training on subjects
like personal financial management.
And Meriwether’s team offers a mix of
formal and informal support structures
that include the Center for Mentoring
and the Personal Counseling Center.
Developing social opportunities for
students is a special challenge at a
campus where many students balance
their college experience with work and
family obligations. But Meriwether
noted, “Numerous studies show that
students who engage on campus
through activities, clubs and service
organizations find improved success
rates in college, and are more likely to
meet their academic and professional
goals.”
To that end, the campus offers more
than 100 organizations and clubs that
cater to a huge variety of interests
and groups – including organizations
for non-traditional students, veterans
and students who organize around
political social, cultural and religious
interests. “Fraternities and sororities
are important social outlets for some
students,” said Meriwether. “They
provide a way for students to broaden
their circle of friends and connections.
Greek life also offers students a chance
to volunteer for a wide range of social
service projects that help people both
on and off the campus.”
As an example of learning outside
the framework of formal courses,
Meriwether mentioned a “fireside chat”
in one of the Student Housing Lodges
where students had the opportunity
to meet with Jeff Hoffman, founder
and former CEO of Priceline.com,
who visited campus last fall as part
of IU Southeast’s Sanders Speaker
Series. “Hoffman had a great story
to tell.” Meriwether said. “He visited
our residential lodges and spoke with
students about entrepreneurship,
giving back to the community and the
nature of leadership.”
Meriwether also works to develop
enrollment strategies and ensure
that an IU Southeast degree remains
accessible and affordable. As part
of that effort, he and colleagues in
Enrollment Management & Student
Affairs have been working to boost
summer enrollments through a strategy
that includes a 25 percent discount for
summer courses (and, for continuing
students who registered in the spring
for two or more courses, a $300 grant
for textbooks).
It’s been effective, said Meriwether,
noting that IU Southeast is on target
for a significant enrollment over the
previous summer. “I think that offering
this type of support for our students will
lead to record-breaking enrollment,”
he said.
A family anecdote reveals that
Meriwether is just as persistent in his
personal life as in his professional life.
Years ago, while stopped at a traffic
light, he looked at the car in the next
lane and saw his future wife.
He waved.
She drove on.
He met her again at the next traffic
light which happily – as it turned out
– also turned red. At that light he was
able to introduce himself. They were
married a year later.
These days, Meriwether and his wife,
Tanya, live in New Albany. Their joy is
in raising five children, L.J., 13; Micah,
12; Jasmyne, 11; Julian, 6 and Jordan, 4.
As he showed a visitor some family
photos on his i-pad, he smiled at two or
three where the kids were playing in
the snow. And he joked about this year’s
long, cold winter. “Funny”, he said with
a grin. “They didn’t mention all of this
snow when I was interviewing for this
position last April.”
Jason Meriwether, Vice Chancellor
for Enrollment Management and
Student Affairs
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