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Nicholas Garcia has begun his role as the school’s associate dean for student success, effective Jan. 1.

In this new role, Garcia — who most recently served as the director of academic advising and student services at the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU — leads the school’s student success efforts, focused on enhancing student outreach, professional development and advocacy, while collaborating with faculty to explore new opportunities.

“It is clear from his background and our discussions that Mr. Garcia strives to make higher education accessible and attainable for all,” said K.C. Ogbonna, Pharm.D., dean, professor and Archie O. McCalley Chair of the School of Pharmacy. “His passion for equity and equality drives much of the work he does and will continue to advance the great strides we have made.”

After completing a Master of Public Administration, Garcia began working as the Senior Academic Advisor for VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, where he advised Criminal Justice, Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, and Urban and Regional Studies majors. During this time, he helped found the University Academic Advising Board (UAAB), a professional community for VCU’s academic advisors, and worked as a Building Inclusive Communities training facilitator.

These two opportunities deepened Garcia’s interest in higher education leadership and diversity, equity and inclusion, inspiring him to pursue a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Justice, which he is scheduled to earn this year.

Garcia has dedicated his career to understanding academic department culture and its impact on underrepresented minority faculty members and students. Along with his academic work, from 2019-2021, he served as a commissioner for the City of Richmond’s Human Rights Commission, in which he advised Richmond City Council and the mayor on matters related to human rights violations within the city.

Garcia grew up in King George, Virginia. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Public Administration from the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU.

Tori Keel, Ed.D., the school’s director of student success, has served in the role as interim associate dean since 2022.

“I want to share my profound gratitude to Dr. Tori Keel for her efforts during this interim period. Throughout, Dr. Keel has demonstrated tremendous skill, talent and dedication in her work to ensure our students are supported, well-resourced and academically successful. Moreover, she has done this while simultaneously managing the School’s admissions and recruitment efforts,” Ogbonna said. “I am confident that, with her capabilities working in accord with Mr. Garcia and the other members of our Office of Admissions and Student Success, we are destined for even greater heights.”

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