UNC Greensboro Associate Professor Dr. Delma Ramos is one of three faculty members selected for the coveted UNC System Faculty Fellowship Program.
The 2024 fellowship will focus on improving transfer programs, a particularly important initiative given the shifting demographics among high school graduates and recent enrollment declines.
MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
Founded in 2016, the UNC System Faculty Fellowship Program engages faculty in issues related to academic affairs, offering mentorship, learning opportunities, and promoting the effectiveness of the System and its 17 constituent institutions. The fellowship also provides experience navigating state and national challenges in public higher education.
“The entire UNCG faculty extends our congratulations to Associate Professor Ramos for earning this unique opportunity to help shape the future of higher education in North Carolina,” says Provost and Executive Vice-Chancellor Debbie Storrs. “With the changing landscape of higher education, the expertise and work of these Fellows is more important than ever and will help to enhance the college experience for students across the state.”
Dr. Ramos joined UNCG’s faculty in 2018 and is currently the graduate program director for doctoral programs in the Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in student affairs and higher education, along with a doctoral degree in higher education.
“My commitment to student success has always been at the center of everything that I do, so being selected to participate in this experience and to be invited to contribute to such important efforts with the UNC System means a lot to me,” says Dr. Ramos.
Transfer students are an integral part of the Spartan community. More than 1,600 new transfer students were enrolled in the Fall 2023 semester, 9% more than Fall 2022. More than one-third of UNCG’s undergraduate population began their academic career at another institution.
At UNCG, Dr. Ramos received a grant to examine the experiences of students who transferred from community college to UNCG. She was also a member of the Transfer Promise task force, collaborating with faculty and administrators to look at transfer agreements and pathways existing for UNCG students.
Dr. Ramos began her own higher education journey at a community college so the focus on transfer students is also personal.
“I am a proud community college transfer graduate, and this fellowship allows me to extend the work that I did at the institutional level and have an impact beyond,” she says. “I possess a well-rounded understanding of the research on transfer students along with engaging with them in my own work.”
Throughout her higher education career, Dr. Ramos has worked in a variety of areas including student support services, international student and scholar services, and housing and residence life. Her research focuses on historically minoritized populations in higher education. Part of Dr. Ramos’ doctoral dissertation work examined[DS5] how underrepresented students, including transfer students, access and leverage their assets to succeed in college.
“The focus on transfer students is timely and urgent and I’m ecstatic that the UNC System is prioritizing this work,” says Dr. Ramos.
THE TRANSFER LANDSCAPE
Transfer students at all Universities continue to face challenges. According to the Community College Research Center at Columbia University, one of the leading research centers focused on transfer student experiences – 80% of students at community colleges enter intending to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree. However, within 5 years, only 25% of those students transfer to a four-year college and only 17% earn a bachelor’s degree within 6 years of transferring.
A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office also found students lost an average of 43% of their credits when transferring.
While these studies speak to transfer students nationally, there is currently no statewide data on the transfer landscape. Dr. Ramos will work alongside Dr. Nathaniel Grove, from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Dr. Audrey Jaeger, from NC State University to replicate these studies using North Carolina-specific data. This includes those who transfer between public and/or private colleges and universities in North Carolina, transfer students from outside North Carolina who transfer to a UNC System university, and those who begin at a community college and transfer to a UNC System university (with or without earning an associate degree prior to transfer).
Story by Avery Craine Powell, University Communications
Photography courtesy of Dr. Delma Ramos