Division of Student Affairs and Success opens the Office for ABC Student Success; Lenora M. Willis named inaugural executive director

Lenora Willis, the inaugural executive director of African, Black, Caribbean student success, opens the Office for ABC Student Success

February 09, 2022

Lenora Willis will serve as the inaugural executive director for ABC student success.

We are pleased to announce the Office for African, Black, Caribbean Student Success begins serving students this week. Created to advocate for the holistic success of ABC students, the office will actively work to remove barriers from the ABC student experience. Focused on institutional transformation, the Office for ABC Student Success is intended to secure campus-wide strategic initiatives and priorities by addressing equity gaps, climate issues, persistent under enrollment, and retention and graduation rates of ABC students. Specifically, the office will play a key role in the leadership of the Black Experience Team (BET). The office will initially report directly to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Success. After a period of three years, it will undergo a program evaluation to assess and make recommendations for the long term reporting line.

The establishment of the Office for ABC Student Success represents years of work and builds on student advocacy to identify the challenges and provide recommendations for improving the access, retention, graduation, and overall success of ABC students at UC Santa Cruz. Countless current and former students, faculty and staff  who advocated for more sustainable solutions and its essential mission. In particular, we thank members of the Black Student Union and the Black Experience Team for their significant contributions to this office’s creation.

This office, its outreach, and its aim have the potential to sustainably improve our campus community. Therefore, at its onset, the office will be led by an executive director. The executive director will identify measurable long term goals, develop strategic plans, and collaborate with campus stakeholders to further advance ABC student support. A content expert and key strategist, the inaugural executive director’s immediate leadership will be essential to the office’s long term success. 

As such, we are excited to introduce Lenora M. Willis as the first executive director of the Office for ABC Student Success. Originally from Mount Airy Philadelphia, PA, Lenora has 11 years of student affairs experience. She’s worked at a variety of institutions in a variety of locations across the United States, including UC Santa Cruz. Lenora joins the Division of Student Affairs and Success from College Student Life, where she was an associate director for College Nine and the newly named John R. Lewis College since 2019. 

Lenora has spent her entire career advocating for staff and students through strategic initiatives that focus on efficiency, trauma-informed innovation, and equity development. Prior to joining UC Santa Cruz, Lenora worked in housing, residential education, career success, multicultural affairs, and student life/activities. Lenora earned her master's degree in Higher Education in Student Affairs from Salem State University in Salem, MA. She earned her bachelor's degree from Drew University where she majored in mathematics and French. Lenora is excited to begin her work as executive director and looks forward to directly advocating for African, Black, and Caribbean students’ success. Lenora Willis can be reached at lmwillis@ucsc.edu

Please join us in congratulating Lenora on her new appointment and welcoming her, and the Office of ABC Student Success, to the division.