Marvin Williams is a Student Success coordinator at the Office of Student Success, who recently received his 15-year certificate from the university.
“I provide academic success workshops for the campus every Tuesday and most Thursdays this semester during x-period,” Williams said.
He said these workshops are open to all students wanting to attend, and cover topics related to student success such as time management, study skills, how to study, how to take notes, procrastination, goal setting and paraphrasing strategies.
“All of the skills that we feel students need to be successful,” Williams said. “Each Tuesday, I have a presenter who comes and covers one of those topics.”
Williams moved to Conway in 1990 from Osceola, Arkansas, graduating from UCA in 1995 as a speech language pathology major. He went to work at Faulkner County Day School assisting children with special needs and instructing a class for eight years.
“A position came open here [at UCA]for an academic adviser. It was an emergency hire, and I think I had a weekend to make a decision about a career change,” Williams said. “It was one of the best things I could’ve ever done. I can see myself retiring from UCA.”
Williams also works with students who are on their first academic suspensions.
When a student’s cumulative GPA falls below a 2.0, the student is placed on first academic probation, which involves a suspension of two academic terms. The second probation involves a full-year suspension and the third probation, an indefinite suspension.
Students on their first academic probation can opt to go through a boot camp program, requiring them to attend the workshops that Williams orchestrates to log a minimum of five study hours in the library each week while attending a noncredit academic seminar. The boot camp has been an available option since 2005.
“The Office of Student Success tries to front-load students with the resources that they need so that hopefully we can prevent them from ending up in academic turmoil,” Williams said. Suspensions are a last resort and the boot camp functions as a second-to-last resort for struggling students.
Williams also volunteers with the UCA Bear Essentials Food Pantry located in Old Main.
“When I came back to UCA in 2003, I started out as an academic adviser, and I can’t tell you the number of students that were low on food,” Williams said. “I would walk students down to the cafeteria and I would pay for them [to get]a meal.”
He said there were a few other people on campus — like Reesa Ramsahai, staff counselor and coordinator of Outreach Programming in the counseling center, and Brian James, Resident Master at EDGE Residential College in Hughes Hall — who had noticed the same need.
“We kind of got together and wanted to see [the food pantry]happen on campus,” Williams said.
They drafted a proposal and received the support of the administration. The pantry also receives some funding from SGA and direct deposits from employees who want to give each pay period.
“It started small, but it’s grown, and the word is getting out,” Williams said. “[Contributors] will call me once or twice a month [when]they have excess [food]and [they]share it with the UCA Food Pantry. Sometimes it’s fresh produce. Today we have meat and baked goods.”
“[Williams is] the spirit of the food pantry,” Jacob Christie, volunteer coordinator for the food pantry, said. “Since we’ve started tracking in January of this year, we’ve had 947 students and staff use the pantry, and we have taken in over 6,700 pounds of food.”
Photo by Marley Cash-Powell