James Black

Department: Center for Academic Achievement

Dean of Academic Achievement

  • Education
  • MA, Univ of Missouri Columbia
  • BA, Univ of Missouri Kansas City

I lead the Center for Academic Achievement (CAA) team in supporting students’ academic experiences outside the classroom to help them make transitions from matriculation through graduation. The CAA’s expansive portfolio includes academic support services, intellectually engaging programming and interventions for students in distress. I collaborate with faculty, staff and students to develop effective ways to encourage students’ learning and persistence. Specific responsibilities include chairing the Campus Assessment, Response & Evaluation (CARE) team and the Academic Standing Committee, resolving medical withdrawal requests, notifying faculty about legitimate student absences and overseeing the academic honesty process.

I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. Although always a strong student, my college journey was not traditional and included a few stops along the way. I continue to draw on my experiences as a first-generation college student in my work with and for students. I earned an associate degree from Penn Valley Community College and a bachelor degree from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. My master degree is from the University of Missouri – Columbia and I am in my final year of coursework toward a Ph.D. from Colorado State University’s Higher Education Leadership hybrid program.


Dean of Academic Engagement June 2015 - present

Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pa.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Serves on Student Life Leadership Team, which works with the Vice President of Student Life to develop and implement strategic planning for the division.
  • Oversees student academic engagement outside the classroom based on developmental model of first-year through senior-year experience, academic skills support, and disability services.
  • Chairs Campus Assessment, Response, and Evaluation (CARE) Team to support students of concern. Reviews requests for medical leaves of absence in consultation with assistant dean of counseling and makes decision about approval.
  • Appointed by provost to lead implementation of Educational Advisory Board’s SSC Campus platform.
  • Chairs academic standing committee and oversees academic honesty process.

Selected Accomplishments

  • Restructured the Center for Academic Achievement, building on its strong reputation of academic skills support while addressing the needs of students’ transitions from matriculation through graduation.
  • Increased CAA team engagement with students from 30% to 51% of the student body from 2013 to 2016.
  • Appointed in April 2015 to oversee planning of summer preview days and fall orientation. Refined the preview days program and hosted a record number of incoming students.


Associate Dean for Student Engagement & Success Aug. 2013 - Aug. 2015

Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pa.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Assisted Vice President for Student Engagement and Success in the development of initiatives to promote student engagement and persistence.
  • Managed student support referrals and medical withdrawals.
  • Chaired Behavioral Assessment and Intervention Team.
  • Supervised data collection and reporting about student withdrawals.
  • Served as co-mentor to cohort of ten STEM students.

Selected Accomplishments

  • Oversaw creation of university’s first sophomore experience event, the Sophomore Surge, which has drawn nearly 20% of the sophomore class in both of its first two years.
  • Appointed by provost to serve on leadership team to implement Educational Advisory Board’s Student Success Collaborative advising system.


Director, Center for Academic Achievement Aug. 2001 - Aug. 2013

Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pa.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Lead all operations of the Center for Academic Achievement (CAA).
  • Plan, develop, and evaluate academic support programming, including individualized services and workshops.
  • Hire, train, supervise, and evaluate 4-5 staff members.
  • Initiate data collection and reporting about students' academic engagement and progress.
  • Oversee peer education program.
  • Meet with students referred for services and manage small caseload of academic advisees.
  • Develop and maintain promotional materials, including web content, social media, and paper-based marketing.

Selected Accomplishments

  • Served on committee that worked with architects and designers to plan the renovation of Fisher Hall and the new facility for the Center for Academic Achievement.
  • Successfully promoted new location, resulting in greater reach to student body, with an increase in usage of CAA’s services from 30% of student body in AY 2012 to 46% in AY 2014.
  • Served on Taskforce on Student Success and Engagement, whose yearlong effort resulted in creating plan to increase student engagement and retention (2011-12).
  • Oversaw successful transition of Disability Services from director of counseling to creation of new, full-time position under my supervision in the CAA.
  • Transformed data management from system of separate spreadsheets to a centralized system by a trusted vendor.
  • Established peer educator development program, including for-credit course, focusing on core skills and non-directive practices transferable to student workers in various student support offices. Certified by College Reading and Learning Association International Tutor Certification Program (2005-2009).
  • Promoted university’s social justice efforts throughout tenure by serving on Diversity Initiative Project Steering Committee (2002-03), Office of Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board (2002-2005), Bias Response and Education Team (2009-10), and Diversity Advisory Board (2009-present), and as Gender-Sexuality Alliance Advisor (2005-present).
  • Wrote successful annual, competitive grant to provide academic support program for economically and educationally disadvantaged Pennsylvania. Funded by Act 101 Program, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Equal Educational Opportunity (2002-07).



Co-Director of Online Writery & Tutor Aug. 1997 - Aug. 2001

University of Missouri Writing Center, Columbia, Mo.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Monitor requests for assistance via web-based tracking system.
  • Tutor students in face-to-face sessions and asynchronous responses via email.
  • Facilitate development of writing skills in inexperienced writers through one-to-one tutoring sessions, introducing them to proper methodology, structural elements, and grammar.

Selected Accomplishments

  • Assisted in re-design of website, including building pages from scratch with HTML and copywriting.
  • Wrote online manual for training of online tutors.
  • Gained experience in working with ESL, at-risk and non-traditional-age students.
  • Supervised evening shift at Writing Center for the 1999-2000 academic year.
  • Received “Excellence in Tutoring Award,” 2000.



PhD, Higher Education Leadership

Colorado State University, Expected August 2019


MA, English Literature (Emphasis: Creative Writing)

Thesis: “The Problem of Power: Masculinity in Raymond Carver’s Prose”

University of Missouri--Columbia, August 2000


BA, English Literature (Emphasis: Creative Writing)

University of Missouri--Kansas City, May 1997



“Identifying At-Risk Students with Student Success Collaborative Implementation.” Presented at the 36th Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience. Atlanta, GA. Co-Facilitated with Katie Burr. February 2017.

Safe Zone Trainer, Susquehanna University, 2011.

Leadershape Cluster Facilitator, Susquehanna University, 2010.

"Didn't Even Know This Place Was Here: Insiders/Outsiders at the Centers and on the Edges." Presented at Midwest Writing Centers Association 24th Annual Regional Conference. Kansas City, MO. October 2007.

"(Filling the) White Space: Getting Students to Write More in the Writing Center." Conference workshop presented at the International Writing Center Association Conference, University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, TX. Co-Facilitated with Jane Kokernak. April 2007.

"Where Did Our Love Go?: Coming Out as Writers in the Writing Center." Presented at the Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association Conference, Eastern University, St. Davids, PA. Co-presented with Jane Kokernak. March 2007.

"'Which One of You Guys Is the Woman?': Same-Sex Intimacy Meets the Ick Factor." Presented at the Gay-Straight Alliance Third Annual Colloquium, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA. April 2006.

Workshop on the Teaching of Writing. Facilitated for faculty at Susquehanna University. Selinsgrove, PA. May 2005.

"Failure? Yes! And...Improvisation as a New Literacy." Presented at the New Literacies Conference: Writing, Teaching, Performing America. Co-sponsored by the University of Kansas and The American Theatre and Drama Society. Lawrence, KS. (Co-Presenter: Sally Foster). March 2005.

Workshop on the Teaching of Writing. Facilitated for faculty at Susquehanna University. Selinsgrove, PA. May 2004.

"From Comfort Zone to Safe Zone: Promoting Diversity, Critical Thinking, and the Writing Center." Presented at the International Writing Centers Association and National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing Joint Conference. Hershey, PA. October 2003.

"Altar Ego: GLAAD Sacrifices Male Intimacy to the Media Gods." Presented at the 9th Annual Symposium on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Issues, University of Rhode Island. Kingston, RI. April 2003.



Contributor. College Knowledge. Susquehanna University, 2012-13. Blog. http://collegeknowledge.susqu.edu/author/jthreeblack/

"Altar Ego: GLAAD Sacrifices Male Intimacy to the Media Gods." The New Queer Aesthetic on Television: Essays on Recent Programming. Ed. James R. Keller and Leslie Strayner. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005, pp. 177-192. http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?isbn=0-7864-2390-0

Advisor, Stance: A Journal of Freshman Academic Writing. Susquehanna University English Department. Volumes 1-5. 2002-06.

Design Committee, Online Writery, University of Missouri-Columbia. Web site. Wrote/edited text, designed and built specific pages, 1999-2001.

Author, Cyberstyle at the Online Writery. Manual addressing issues related to interacting with clients online and specific policies for University of Missouri Online Writery. Author. 2000.



Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA

Lecturer -- EDUC 125: Residential Leadership (2016)

In collaboration with Dean of Students & Campus Life, made significant changes to and taught this course taught for new resident assistants. The purpose of our collaboration was to pilot changes for a course that we planned to introduce in fall 2016 for all student leaders.

Lecturer -- PRDV 104: Perspectives (2014)

Taught section of university’s first-year experience course for incoming STEM cohort of ten students in collaboration with Biology faculty member.

Lecturer, Co-creator -- EDUC 370: The Theory and Practice of Peer Education (2004-13)

Collaborated with English department faculty to propose and develop course for writing tutor development. In 2010, changed course to serve broader needs of peer education program in collaboration with leaders of other campus units.


University of Missouri--Columbia

Graduate Instructor - ENG 20: Exposition & Argumentation (1998 - 1999)

Created assignments and organized activities based on guidelines of Director of Composition. Provided students with workshop environment, peer-to-peer interaction, and personalized instruction.

Graduate Instructor - ENG 50: Introduction to Fiction Writing (1998)

Created assignments and organized activities centered on basic concepts of fiction writing. Provided students with workshop environment, peer-to-peer interaction, and personalized instruction.



  • Mentors in Violence Prevention: Train the Trainer Workshop, Susquehanna University, 2017
  • Pennsylvania Policy Institute: Sexual & Cyber Misconduct. Juniata College, 2015
  • Institute for Aspiring Senior Student Affairs Officers, ACPA, San Diego, CA, 2014
  • NCHERM Title IX Training. Susquehanna University, 2014
  • Mental Health First Aid USA Certification, Susquehanna University, 2014
  • Process Transformation Training, Geisinger Health Systems, Susquehanna University, 2014
  • Mid-level Professionals Pre-conference Workshop, NASPA, Baltimore, MD, 2014
  • Heartsaver CPR AED Certification, American Heart Association, Susquehanna University, 2013
  • Institute on Sophomore Student Success. National Resource Center on the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. University of South Carolina--Columbia, SC, 2013
  • Workshop for Educators Supporting Reading Comprehension, Writing, and Study Skills, Landmark College, Putney, VT, 2009.
  • Postsecondary Disability Training Institute, hosted by University of Connecticut, Philadelphia, PA, 2009
  • Stop the Hate Anti-Bias and Hate Crime Training, Campus Pride, Napa Valley College, Napa, CA, 2009
  • Wesleyan Writers Conference, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 2007
  • Institute for Writing and Thinking, Bard College, One week in July 2004-2006
  • Leadership Susquehanna Valley, Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania, 2005



  • American College Personnel Association (2011-present)
  • National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (2014-15)
  • National Academic Advising Association (2012-14)
  • Association of Writers and Writing Programs (2013)
  • National Council of Teachers of English (2011-12)
  • International Writing Centers Association (2002-2008)
  • Writing Lab Newsletter Peer Reviewer (2006-07)
  • International Tutor Certification Program, College Reading and Learning Association, Evaluator (2005-07)
  • Pennsylvania Act 101 Statewide Directors' Association (2001-07), Chair of Region H (2003-05)
  • Member Nominations Committee-Act 101 Directors' Association (2001-07)
  • National Association of Developmental Educators Conference Proposal Reviewer (2006)
  • Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs in Higher Education 8th Biennial Conference, Proposal Review Committee (2005)
  • Mid-Atlantic Women's Studies Association Annual Conference, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA, Host Committee (2004)

Courses taught:

  • EDUC-125 Residential Leadership
  • PRDV-104 Perspectives