KOKOMO, Ind. – An Indiana University Kokomo leader earned recognition for work supporting transfer students receiving the IU Transfer Champion award for faculty.
Christina Downey, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and student success, received the honor during the university’s recent transfer symposium.
Downey, who also is professor of psychology, said it was an honor to be recognized and it acknowledges achievement by many on campus.
“There’s nothing I do in any of my work that I do by myself. The admissions office, the advising team, and many others do a great job supporting our transfer students,” she said. “I am very proud of what we do for them. I know there is more work to do, but I feel good about the direction we have set.”
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke congratulated Downey and thanked her for her leadership.
“Christina serves as an advocate for our transfer students and demonstrates her care for their success on our campus,” Sciame-Giesecke said. “She sets the example for the rest of our faculty and staff to follow, and encourages innovation in helping these students transition successfully.”
Downey noted that about 30 percent of IU Kokomo’s population can be classified as transfer students, whether they enrolled for the first time with credits from dual enrollment courses in high school, came from another institution with credits, or transferred after earning an associate degree from a community college. Each type presents a unique challenge.
“Transfer students come from diverse backgrounds,” she said. “Some have been in college two or three years and needed to relocate. They know a great deal about college, but they don’t know about us specifically. That challenge is to help them get to know our resources and develop an IUK Cougar identity in a short time period, and let them know we value who they are.”
Those who transfer earlier may have struggled at another school, or had to leave because of financial difficulties, and come with negative feelings.
“We want them to see we don’t judge them, and we want to support them as strongly as any other student,” she said, noting most of the time, these students’ greatest concern is how many of their credits will transfer and how soon they can graduate.
About half of the current first-year class brought in enough credits from dual enrollment to arrive on campus as sophomores, meaning they have some academic experience but need support transitioning to college life.
Downey supported work in the Office of Student Success and Advising to teach advisors coaching techniques to help transfer students transition to IU Kokomo. They also developed an orientation program specific to transfer students, to introduce them not only to campus resources like financial aid, tutoring, and the library, but also each other.
“They feel invisible on campus, and don’t know who else is a transfer student,” she said. “They get to know others like themselves, which helps them feel more comfortable here.”