New associate provost to focus on low-income, first-generation college students
Drawing on previous work and personal experiences, future associate provost Anthony Tillman will work with university administrators to help implement initiatives to create a more socioeconomically inclusive campus.
Washington University recently hired Tillman, currently an assistant provost at Southern Methodist University, to fill a new role aimed at giving attention to the experiences of low-income and first-generation students. The role was created after an internal report recommended that the University provide more resources to help low-income and first-generation students adapt to college.
Although he will not officially assume his position until July 1, Tillman is currently working to determine how best to support these students.
During his nine-year tenure at SMU, Tillman focused on minorities, low-income students and first-generation college students. At Washington University, he hopes to continue developing these same goals and objectives.
“The opportunity to continue in this manner and the opportunity to expand on some of the initiatives that I’ve been able to achieve here [at SMU], at a university like Washington University, is a very attractive aspiration in a lot of ways,” Tillman said.
One of the primary reasons Tillman decided to join the University is due to the school’s committed work to increase the diversity across campus. He said the support he received from programs for low-income and first-generation students helped him understand the importance of this effort.
“A school like Washington University, with respect to its present set of target initiatives with respect to working with students from low-income, first-generation backgrounds, is commendable,” Tillman said.
Another reason, he added, was the opportunity to reunite with his wife, Lori White, who is currently in her first year as vice chancellor for student affairs. Before her appointment to Washington University, White worked at SMU alongside Tillman.
“We have a really strong personal and professional partnership that I’m looking forward to reconnecting with,” Tillman said.
Though he won’t officially start his position until the first week of July, Tillman is already preparing for his role on campus by meeting monthly with key stakeholders. Most of his duties, he explained, will consist of gathering further information in order to assess the necessities of the student body, with a particular focus on the low-income and first-generation college backgrounds.
“What I would want to do is make sure to have the mechanisms in place to support these students and ensure that not one of them falls through the cracks in terms of getting the support they need to be successful,” Tillman said. “My primary focus is to make sure we have the services in place, the programs in place, the people in place, to allow these students to thrive.”
The specifics of what these programs and initiatives targeted toward these groups of students have not been outlined yet, as Tillman hopes to obtain a better grasp of the situation and what is right for the Washington University community.
“It’s going to be important to the best of my ability educate the University and others about some of the challenges that we can anticipate that students from a low-income background, and first-generation college students, may experience and what is the best way to anticipate how to address them,” Tillman said.
Provost Holden Thorp shared his excitement about Tillman’s appointment and felt that Tillman was the right person to undertake these responsibilities that will advance the University in its goals towards a more inclusive campus.
“[Tillman’s position] was created in response to the discussions that have been happening on campus about socioeconomic diversity,” Thorp explained.
“One of my philosophies of the college experience is that it’s not going to be perfect, but the one thing that it should not be is an experience [in which] you always find yourself continually trying to overcome hurdles and barriers that are institutional-based, where we get in your way to be successful. That should never happen,” Tillman said.