Student Affairs Leadership and Office

Dr. Renique Kersh

A strategic leader with more than 20 years of higher education experience, Dr. Renique Kersh became UMBC’s Vice President for Student Affairs on August 15, 2023.

Throughout her career, Dr. Kersh has led student success and engagement with a strong commitment to creating experiential equity, providing leadership development, and building strong teams. She is committed to putting students at the center of important institutional decisions. Her experience in both academic and student affairs provides her with a broad understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing students and higher education institutions and positions her well to lead institutional efforts.

Dr. Kersh has provided visionary leadership at both public and private institutions, engaging university stakeholders in the critical and collaborative work required to ensure that students are transformed by their experiences both in and out of the classroom. Her commitment to outcomes has resulted in retention gains, reductions in equity gaps, reductions in barriers to student success, increases in engagement for underrepresented students in undergraduate research, and service learning experiences, as well as the merging of academic support and career services to increase efficiency and the level of service delivery.

She began her career in Residential Life at UMBC and has held mid-level and senior-level leadership positions at North Central College, Northern Illinois University, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Simmons University.

Dr. Kersh earned her B.A. in Communications from Oakland University, her M.Ed. in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland, and her Ph.D. in Community Health from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She is a wife and a mother of two boys.

Fritzie Charne-Merriwether

Fritzie Charné-Merriwether became Acting Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Diversity in October 2023. She provides leadership for campus life and student engagement; civic life, diversity, and inclusion programming; intellectual sports and applied learning; communications, marketing, and IT; and parent and family engagement.

Her UMBC service has been characterized by redefining excellence in higher education, exceptional leadership, selfless service, and an unwavering commitment to the campus community. Charné-Merriwether began her career at UMBC as a community director in Residential Life, and returned to the university in 2010 as Special Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Through her leadership and collaboration with divisional and campus partners, Charné-Merriwether developed and coordinated programs to help students experiencing academic and well-being issues as well as financial and food insecurity and built a thriving program for UMBC families. In 2022 she became Assistant to the Vice President and Director of Family Engagement.

Charné-Merriwether was instrumental in establishing Retriever Essentials in 2016 and the Stay Black and Gold Emergency Fund in 2017. Under her leadership, Retriever Essentials evolved from an effort to distribute nonperishable food to students to a multi-faceted cross campus initiative that includes the Essential Space, a free farmer’s market, a meal recovery program, a campus garden, and the Save-a-Swipe program. Over 8,000 individuals received assistance in 2023. Charné-Merriwether served as advisor and created a formal process for the Stay Black and Gold Fund, an SGA initiative which provides short-term financial assistance for UMBC students who find it difficult or impossible to continue their education due to an emergency situation or unforeseen circumstances. To date, Stay Black and Gold has provided over $200,000 in funds to benefit over 400 UMBC students.

In 2017 she established the Family Advisory Board (FAB), an indispensable network for families to engage with and support the university community. She created events and programming for families and transitioned a family newsletter to the Family Connection Portal, which has significantly improved communication and engagement between the university and the family community. Since family programming was established, these initiatives have helped to increase family donations to UMBC.

Charné-Merriwether previously spent over seven years in a variety of leadership positions in Student Affairs and with the federal government. This includes serving as the Contractor Installation Manager for the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In this role she was responsible for overseeing the ACAP Resource Center that provided social work services to Warriors in Transition Soldiers, and disabled veterans/retirees, as well as transitioning service personnel and family members in support of rehabilitation and transition to civilian life.

Charné-Merriwether has a B.A. in Psychology from Roger Williams University and a M.Ed. in Student Affairs Higher Education from the University of Vermont.

John Fox

Dr. John Fox ‘91, information systems, became Acting Associate Vice President and Dean of Students in October 2023. He has served as Director of Residential Life since July 2015. In addition to being an alumnus and later a graduate assistant, Fox has been serving the UMBC community for over 13 years. He states, “Serving the UMBC community is both professionally and personally meaningful because this is a community to whom I owe so much for my development, values, and achievements.”

Fox is delighted to serve in the Dean of Students acting role; his 25 years of service in housing and residential life have prepared him to understand the holistic aspects of student life and the student experience. This position and title have great meaning to him:  “I take this role very seriously as it represents advocacy for UMBC students. His strengths (Rath, T, 2007) include maximizer, empathy, harmony, adaptability, and consistency.

In Residential Life, Fox has strived to promote inclusive excellence through intentional programming and co-curricular learning focused on relationships/conflict management, social issues/justice, and positive coping strategies to promote academic success. Residential Life is known as welcoming and friendly and, under Fox’s leadership, has been a strong collaborative partner across the Division of Student Affairs and UMBC.

Fox is most proud of his 25 years of service to college students; mentoring, supervising, and seeing the growth in countless students and student staff.  In addition, Fox is engaged with the Association of College & University Housing Officers, International (ACUHO-I) and has served in numerous leadership roles with the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) throughout his career. Beyond higher education, he has served many years as an Anti-Defamation League trainer and raised funds for causes through athletic endeavors such as cycling and running.

He holds a M.A. in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Colorado State University.

Davonya Hall

Davonya Hall, J.D.
Special Assistant to the Vice President,
Associate Director, Student Conduct and Community Standards

Ebony Brown

Ebony Brown
Executive Administrative Assistant II

UMBC Sign in front of Administration building

Shakira Davidson
Executive Administrative Assistant I

Lesa Goodhue

Lesa Goodhue
Special Assistant to the AVP for Student Affairs, Intellectual Sports and Applied Learning

Brandyn Holtzinger

Brandyn Holtzinger
Community Health and Safety Specialist

Eleanor Lewis
Communications Manager

Dan Neeley

Dan Neeley
IT Operations Manager

Sue Poandl

Sue Poandl, LCSW
Associate Director, Student Affairs

Theresa Miller Delin

Theresa Miller Delin
Student Affairs Administrative & Business Services, Director

UMBC Sign in front of Administration building

Jen Dress
Campus Life, Director of Engagement

UMBC Sign in front of Administration building

Laura Schraven
Student Affairs Creative Services, Director

Samantha Smith

Samantha A. Smith, Ph.D., MPH, CHES
Office of Health Promotion, Director

Mary Ellen Wade

Mary Ellen Wade, Ph.D.
Assessment, Research and Strategic Priorities, Director

UMBC Sign in front of Administration building

Residential Life