Creating pathways

LAS Staff Spotlight: Kristen Sackley

As Staff Spotlight Kristen Sackleydirector of the proposed Bachelor of Liberal Studies at the College of LAS, Kristen Sackley is leading the initiative that aligns her passion with an important mission to create pathways to an accessible education.

The online Bachelor of Liberal Studies program is intended primarily for students who have started, but not completed, a four-year undergraduate degree. The fully online and non-residential program will also accommodate those who have completed an associate degree and want to further their education.

Briefly describe your responsibilities.Staff Spotlight Kristen Sackley shows here Illinois spirit.
Overall, I am responsible for all aspects involved with developing, launching, and maintaining the new proposed Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree completion program. Oftentimes when I think about my job in relation to similar roles outside of academia, I’d call myself a product manager. This means working with stakeholders from across LAS and the university to ensure we have a great “product” to offer prospective students interested in earning their degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I am responsible for overseeing and coordinating curriculum development, budget, administration, marketing, recruitment, admissions, student services, advising, and basically all aspects of the student experience for students who will be enrolled in the program. It’s fun, and I love the variety, because every day is a new challenge and something different!

What are you most excited about for this new role?
I’m most excited for this role because of the impact I hope the proposed degree will make for students within the state of Illinois, our country, and across the world. In recent years our campus has led several initiatives to expand access and equity of quality education, and the proposed BLS degree is another huge step forward in that mission. Although it’s a large undertaking, I am so excited to be leading the development of a degree program that I believe will put LAS and UIUC at the forefront of higher education and transforming the experience for adult learners and transfer students who cannot come to a physical campus to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

Why is this program important to you?
After working at the Gies College of Business for 5+ years in the graduate space, I was fortunate enough to see the positive impact that high quality online degree programs can have towards a person’s development, career, and life goals. Outside of work, I have always had a passion for supporting underserved populations and have volunteered and served on several nonprofit boards that address these issues. When I learned about the idea that LAS had for the proposed BLS degree, I immediately thought about how important this was for the undergraduate space and how happy I was that an institution of our caliber was ready to take on this challenge, and become more accessible, especially more accessible to the populations that need it the most. So many jobs require a bachelor’s degree today, and there are millions of adult learners with some college credit that need a flexible pathway to earn this important credential and continue to make progress in improving their lives, career paths, and ultimately meeting their personal educational goals. As a double alumna, I’m someone who understands firsthand what a UIUC education can do for an individual and how it can change their life, and I want everyone who wants the opportunity to earn a UIUC degree to have a pathway to do so. Working on an important initiative like the proposed BLS degree program is just one step in the right direction of creating those pathways.

What do you remember of your first visit to campus?
My first visit to campus was with my mom, during my senior year of high school, when I came to check out UIUC as a potential institution for my undergraduate education. UIUC was the last of my visits, so I had other campuses to compare to, but it was clear in just a few hours that UIUC and the Champaign-Urbana area felt like a place I could call home for at least four years, it’s just turned out to be almost 20 years! There are two things that I vividly remember about my first visit to campus: 1) the diversity of the campus community and 2) the friendly nature of nearly everyone that I met. I remember immediately being excited about the fact that the campus community had people from all over the world, different religions, nationalities, educational backgrounds, perspectives and more, and I loved the thought of all the learning and exposure I would get just being in their presence. On top of that, nearly every staff, faculty, student, or member of the campus community was helpful, smiling, and welcoming. The lack of intimidation in a place where so many folks are highly educated, intelligent, and willing to share their knowledge was really comforting to an outgoing 18-year-old, who wanted to meet new people. I still tell prospective students that I engage with today that this is one my favorite parts about living in Champaign-Urbana and being a part of the UIUC community.


News Source

Kayleigh Rahn