Graham native and former Alamance-Burlington school system administrator Robyn S. Hadley will become the next vice president and chief student affairs officer at the University of Virginia this June.
Hadley has served as the associate vice chancellor for scholar programs at Washington University in St. Louis since 2014. Hadley previously founded the “YES I CAN” program at the Children’s Chapel United Church of Christ in Graham in 2004, in hopes of improving access to higher education, and founded the “What’s After High School?” program for ABSS in 2005, serving as its executive director until 2014.
A Graham High School graduate, Hadley earned a Morehead-Cain Scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – passing up full rides she’d been offered to attend Harvard University and Duke University – and played on the Tar Heels’ women’s basketball team while completing her bachelor’s degree in public policy analysis. She graduated from Graham High School in 1981 and UNC in 1985.
Hadley – one of the first black Southern women to become a Rhodes Scholar – attended graduate school at Oxford University, where she studied political science.
Hadley enjoyed a successful career in business before she entered the world of academia, serving as the president and chief operating officer for JAMNC Export Import Group, a U.S. defense contractor based in Hampton, Virginia.
“When I came back [to Alamance County] in 2004, it was a blessing and privilege to have traveled nationally and internationally,” Hadley recalled in a 2014 interview with The Alamance News when she accepted the post in St. Louis. “Seeing what the world looked like and seeing students in other cultures gave me a sense of urgency that our students needed to be prepared for the work force.”
In 2005, she proposed and established the “What’s After High School?” program, which she led for the next nine years, to educate students in Alamance County about the opportunities that are available to them in college and beyond, Hadley explained at the time.
During her tenure with ABSS, Hadley published a book, Within View, Within Reach: Navigating the College-Bound Journey, in 2010 to help prepare students for the college application and admissions process, as well as to locate financial aid sources and scholarships.
In 2012, the White House and U.S. Department of Education named Hadley a “Champion for Change” for her efforts to prepare students for higher education.
Hadley left ABSS in 2014 to accept a post as the associate vice chancellor for student affairs at Washington University in St. Louis, after being recruited for the job by former UNC chancellor Holden Thorp, who has been the provost at Washington University since 2013. Currently, Hadley oversees an academic mentoring program; disability resources; federally-funded services for disadvantaged students; and several scholarship programs that are specific to the university.
Hadley follows another renowned black educator who left a significant footprint at Washington University in St. Louis: Dr. John B. Ervin, who, starting in the early 1950s, trained legions of future educators. In 1968, Ervin became the first black person, since the university’s founding in 1858, to hold a dean’s position. Hadley is the second director in the scholarship’s program since its inception in 1986, according to Washington University in St. Louis.
Originally intended to improve college access and financial aid for black students, the John B. Ervin Scholars Program was later expanded to all students – following a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 that banned the use of race as a factor in college financial aid awards – who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and a commitment to community service, according to the university.
Hadley is scheduled to begin her new position in Charlottesville, Virginia on June 1 of this year, according to the University of Virginia, which announced her appointment last Thursday.
As vice president and chief student affairs officer, where she will oversee a staff of more than 200 in the division, which includes the office of the Dean of Students; the office of African-American Affairs; the student health and career centers; the university judiciary committee; and numerous student organizations.