Student Academic Affairs leadership
Barbara Hancin-Bhatt is the associate dean for student academic affairs, providing leadership for the Student Academic Affairs Office and Life + Career Design initiative. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in Spanish applied linguistics, and a PhD in linguistics. Barbara was on faculty at the University of Utah, Penn State, and University of South Carolina. She has appointments in linguistics and global studies and is former director of the Global Studies program at Illinois and has taught courses abroad in Singapore and Ecuador.
Bob Steltman oversees the college-level advising and records for the Student Academic Affairs Office. He earned bachelor’s degrees in English and history from DePaul University and a master’s degree in English from the University of Illinois. Bob has taught high school English and religion and taught as an adjunct instructor at the college level. He also worked as an academic advisor for eight years.
As assistant dean of Student Academic Affairs, Gretchen Pein manages student information systems, online forms and processes, and student support services, as well as advising students. She received a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and master of education degree at the University of Illinois. Gretchen has worked in Student Academic Affairs since 2000 and loves creative-problem solving and being a friendly resource for students.
Nicole Lamers oversees International Programs for the College of LAS, where she works with incoming international exchange students and creates opportunities for students to study abroad. She holds bachelor’s degrees in German and French secondary education, a master’s degree in African studies, and a PhD in educational policy studies.
Murillo Soranso enjoys working with new students and helping them transition into Illinois and the College of LAS. As director of first year experience, Murillo welcomes new students, coordinates LAS Liftoff, and designs two orientation courses, LAS 101 and LAS 102. Murillo holds an associate degree in computer science from the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Ithaca College, and a master’s degree in higher education administration from Florida International University.
Richie DePaolis-Metz, director of recruitment and admissions, collaborates with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as well as other units in the College of LAS to increase applications and yield. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in organizational leadership. Working in admissions for over 10 years, Richie enjoys being able to meet incoming students and families from all walks of life.
Kate Krueger, the director of LAS Honors, develops innovative courses for honors students to take during their time on campus, such as LAS 122. Kate received her bachelor’s degree from Gustavus Adolphus College and a master’s degree and PhD in English from the University of Iowa. She has published a book and numerous articles about British women writers.
Brian Neighbors, director of Career Development in LAS, teaches courses about career development and co-leads the ACES + LAS Career Fair. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Blackburn College and a master’s degree in college student affairs from Eastern Illinois University. Brian is working on a PhD in educational policy organization and leadership at Illinois.
Kristy Valentin leads the Access and Achievement Program (AAP), the college’s diversity initiative. AAP provides support for students in the President’s Awards Program and the Educational Opportunities Program. Kristy has earned a bachelor’s degree in human development family studies and a master's degree in higher education/academic advising, and she has many years of experience in academic advising and higher education.