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Originally posted on CSU News. Nicholas Petty, M.Ed., Cleveland State University executive director of student success and excellence, has been named one of the 2021-2022 Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates award recipients by the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Nicholas PettyIn his role, Petty serves as director of undergraduate inclusive excellence coaching and director of both the Parker Hannifin Living Learning Community and Summer Bridge Enrichment Academy at CSU.

His efforts in transformative programming work to ensure equitable educational opportunities and empowerment for all students – particularly first-generation students and those from traditionally marginalized backgrounds.

“What he has done here has been nothing short of phenomenal,” said CSU president Harlan Sands. “Nick is a difference-maker, a believer in every student regardless of challenges and will move mountains to help a student in need.”

Prior to his arrival at CSU, Petty spent six years as principal of Cleveland’s innovative Ginn Academy, which earned a School Innovation Award from former Ohio Governor John Kasich in recognition of its “life coach” mentoring program and commitment to developing workforce skills. Petty has earned national notice for his innovative approaches to behavioral intervention and student motivation.

“He has a remarkable relational ability to make each student feel valued, loved, important, special, heard and seen. His service is informed by his compassion and love for young people,” said Tachelle Banks, Ph.D., presidential fellow, associate vice provost for academic innovation and initiatives, and professor and associate dean, faculty and external affairs in the College of Education and Human Services.

“His compassion and commitment to be of service to others is unmatched. While a professional endeavor, this work is personal for him,” Dr. Banks added. “There is a sense of urgency in how he goes about his work. In his words, ‘their lives depend on it.’”

Petty established CSU’s Graduation Coaching Office and works with student support units across campus to enhance services for students from traditionally marginalized backgrounds – often who are also first-generation students identified as being at-risk for dropping out of college.

With the goal of enhancing persistence, retention and graduation rates, his work has helped retain 93% of first-generation minority students with whom he works

“Mr. Petty is a great role model and, with me growing up without a father in my life, I believe he fits that role of someone I aspire to be,” said Gary Grant Thompson III, a third-year CSU student.

“Nick’s passion for helping and serving students is so apparent, his energy so contagious, that one can hardly be in his presence without developing an acute, comprehensive awareness of the impact and value of our work as educators,” said student success graduation coach Andrew Taylor.

“He stands as a beacon; emblematic of the hope and potential for every student, regardless of their circumstances, to succeed in higher education,” Taylor added. “I am a better person for knowing him, and a more passionate and intentional educator because of him.”  

Petty is currently completing a philosophy doctoral program in urban education at CSU. His dissertation is titled “Improving Persistence and Completion for Black and Brown Post-Secondary Students: Examining the Efficacy of Living Learning Communities.”

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