Published on June 23, 2020
After 16 years of serving the students and MU community, Donell Young has accepted a position at the University of Houston as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. He will begin in August.
Young has established a career devoted to student success and student development. He received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degree from Lincoln University and completed a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Missouri School of Law.
In 2004, he joined Mizzou as the Senior Coordinator for the Office of Student Conduct, presiding over the university’s student conduct process. In 2013, he became an assistant director in the Department of Student Life, supervising the Office of Student Conduct, the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center and the Multicultural Center. In 2015, he was named the Director of the Center for Academic Success & Excellence. In 2016 he earned a dual appointment as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Engagement and Success with the Division of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity.
Young has also served as an adviser for multiple student organizations and mentored students in creating comprehensive plans that lead to success both inside and outside the classroom.
Young has meant so much to our CASE staff, our student scholars and the entire Mizzou community. We will miss him dearly and wish him the best as he continues his professional journey.
Before Young goes, we wanted to ask him a few questions regarding his time at MU.
Q&A with Donell Young:
In 2017 you were instrumental in changing the department’s name from Academic Retention Services (ARS) to the Center for Academic Success & Excellence (CASE). Why was that important for the continued success of the department?
I believe every student admitted to the University of Missouri should have the opportunity to reach their individual goals. With that said, to help students reach their holistic goals, I strongly believed it was important to create a positive assets-based environment for students that focuses on their strengths and not their deficits.
Since 1995, Academic Retention Services (ARS) has worked on behalf of Mizzou to promote the success of students from the time of acceptance into MU through graduation. While that has not changed, we felt the name of the office should change to better encapsulate that mission.
On September 26, 2017, ARS unveiled a new name: The Center for Academic Success & Excellence (CASE) to better capture all the services the office provides.
CASE has played and continues to play a major role in MU’s strong retention rates over the past five years. However, CASE provides much more than retention services. CASE provides financial education, increased academic preparation, sense of belonging and services that aid students in a multitude of ways both in the classroom and beyond.
First generation, marginalized, underrepresented, and underserved students are often times not provided the necessary tools throughout the K-12 system, which creates an educational gap.
Access to quality higher education can assist in removing barriers and change students’ lives not just for themselves but for their future children. This is why it is so important that CASE continues to holistically provide support to all students, especially first generation, marginalized, underrepresented, and underserved students.
Throughout your 16 years working at MU you’ve made a huge impact on the university and its students. What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the student success stories that I have played a part in throughout the years. For example, helping students find financial resources so they can complete their degree, helping students get back into an academic program after they were dismissed, writing letters of recommendation for employment, fellowships, internship opportunities, serving as advisor for several student organizations, even attending students’ weddings years after they have graduated from MU, just to name a few.
I am also very proud of the development of the CASE Scholars program (which includes Brooks, CASE, Diversity, KC, and Suggs Scholars). Through the various programs, CASE annually provides more than 500 students the opportunity to attend a series of workshops regarding wellness, networking, student leadership, student involvement and student engagement. CASE scholars also participate in activities/events that focus on creating a sense of belonging.
Additionally, due to these efforts, for the past four years CASE Scholars have higher first retention and higher credit accumulation in contrast to MU students that are not in the CASE program.
What will you miss the most about Mizzou?
I will miss the University community, students, colleagues, my friends, the Social Justice Center and student organization programs/events, MU athletic events, and the amazing individuals I’ve had the pleasure to work with each and every day.
I cherish the professional and personal relationships that I have developed with faculty, staff, students and members of the Columbia community. I will forever be a Tiger, and the University of Missouri will always have a special place in my heart.
MU has been home for me and my family for the past 16 years. I have learned and grown so much during my time here. I know the University will continue to grow and thrive. Working at MU has been an incredible opportunity for me, which made my decision to leave very difficult.
We are living in very trying and troubling times. I have to admit I have had a difficult time seeing the silver lining during the pandemics we are facing, with COVID-19 and the social unrest in this country.
However, in the wake of the recent tragic events, we have seen a diverse group of people come together to address the horrible injustices of the world. I am always filled with hope when I engage in discussions with the brilliant, courageous, student scholars on MU’s campus.
My entire professional career has been devoted to student success and student development. As a proud alum, I will still be dedicated to serving MU students and the university community no matter where I am located.
It’s been an honor and pleasure to have worked with such an amazing group of students during my time at MU.
All the best,