Sarah E. Whitley, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Center for First-generation Student Success, NASPA


Bio: Sara Whitley

Sarah E. Whitley serves as senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation. Prior to joining NASPA, Sarah earned a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education where her scholarly interests included issues of inequality, academic motivation and decision-making, teaching and learning, the success of first-generation and low-income students, and the university presidency and board governance. Her dissertation examined the academic decision-making of low-income and first-generation college students with interest in humanities disciplines in a post-Recession context. From 2007 – 2013, Sarah served as director of First-Year Experience and Family Programs at Longwood University where she was responsible for orientation and welcome programs, peer mentoring, living-learning communities, first year seminars, transition programs, community partnerships, as well as university liaison to the Downtown Farmville Partnership. She has extensive experience consulting with institutions on transition program development, peer mentoring, senior leader effectiveness, and board governance.

Sarah also holds an M.Ed. in college student personnel administration from James Madison University, a bachelor’s degree in political science from Longwood College, and is a 2010 graduate of the HERS Bryn Mawr Summer Institute.