When “Our BOLD Path” was introduced as a new strategic plan for student success, it caught a lot of attention. Students and faculty alike found solace in the new plan that aimed to keep retention high and encourage growth of the students by making them equipped with better skills to handle their future.
This is one of the many things that inspired Dr. Candice P. Baldwin, current Senior Director for Academic Success at Rochester Institute of Technology, to apply and eventually earn the position of Assistant Vice President for Student Success and Retention at Millersville.
“I was drawn to the institution’s commitment to student success, student engagement, and community,” Baldwin said. “I felt this position would allow me to have a transformative impact on the success and retention of students in an intentional and strategic way.”
Baldwin did not start school with the intention of working in a university, however. She graduated from Hampton University and earned her Bachelor’s degree in political science. Then, she attended the College of William & Mary, and earned her Master’s degree in Public Policy and her Doctorate in Education Policy, Planning and Leadership.
“I always joke that I never left college,” Baldwin said, noting that she was a first-generation college student in her household. “I did not intend on working in higher education, and I planned to be a child advocate attorney. I soon learned that it was not my passion, and there was another plan for me.”
“After one semester, I had a hard time adjusting to the new environment at William & Mary. As I contemplated dropping out of my graduate program, I realized that other students of color felt the exact same way that I felt,” Baldwin said. “They wanted to drop out, but as undergraduates, they would be dropping out before getting their college degree. I soon changed my degree focus to educational policy and became heavily involved in campus life.”
It was this, among other things, that fueled her passion for student retention, and inspiring students to continue in their education despite many odds they may face. Millersville’s strategic plan offers several creative and realistic ways to provide access to education to those who may not have had the opportunity otherwise.
Baldwin said that she knew how great the university itself was, but did not know the community would be so warm and welcoming. “I knew after the interview that Millersville University was not only the place I wanted to take the next step in my career, but also a community that I could call home,” Baldwin said.
Student success has been a recurring aspect of Baldwin’s career. She started a program, called Determined Individuals Victoriously Achieving Success (DIVAS), that encouraged women from multicultural backgrounds with a supportive plan that includes “mentorship, personal development, and successful academic progress,” Baldwin said.
Since starting the program at RIT, those involved had a 100 percent graduation rate and 100 percent of women involved have went on to earn leadership positions on campus after their first year, said Baldwin. She plans on bringing this program to Millersville.
Her other plans include implementing other programs to aid in the forward movement of “Our BOLD Path.” She intends on making herself a “positive, visible and supportive leader on campus.”
She also plans to foster a healthy community within Millersville by “focusing on team development, inclusive processes, collaborative partnerships, accountability, transparency, student engagement, and data collection strategies,” Baldwin said. “[They] were all instrumental to my leadership efforts in improving academic outcomes at my previous institutions, and I plan to bring that experience and track record of success to MU.”
Some of the biggest contributors to her success are her faith and her family, she said. Baldwin also mentions that her involvement with sorority Zeta Phi Beta is an important part of her support system.
When she isn’t working with students, she’s falling in love with possibilities. “The beautiful thing about possibilities is that it opens the door for creativity, innovation, and growth… The beauty of life is not always what is, but what can be,” Baldwin said. “It is in dwelling in possibilities that we can achieve great things, often greater that we could have accomplished if we didn’t take time to envision our goals, our dreams, and aspirations.”
Karaoke, travelling and playing games are also some of Baldwin’s ways to spend the time. She also has a quote book. “I am a collector of quotes,” Baldwin said. It’s this love of quotes, she said, that brings her own quotes to life.
Her students, friends and family members constantly talk about her quotes, which have been affectionately been called “Candicisms.” She notes that this is a talent of hers.
Students can find Dr. Baldwin around campus starting in fall of 2016; be careful, her passion for life and students may just leave you with a warm feeling in your chest and a smile on your face.