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Jennifer Keup, Ph.D.

Executive Director


Jennifer Keup, PhD, is the Executive Director for the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU). In this role she provides leadership for all of the organization’s operational, programmatic, strategic, and scholarly activities. In addition, Dr. Keup serves as the Vice President of Urban Initiatives at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) to support, advocate, and advance the needs and interests of APLU institutions in urban settings.

Prior to coming to USU and APLU, Dr. Keup served as the Executive Director of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina for over 15 years. In that role, she built upon the National Resource Center’s history of excellence as the founder and leader of the first-year experience movement to develop and pursue the organization’s efforts to serve a worldwide network of educators dedicated to students’ transition, development, learning, and success, particularly at critical junctures in the educational pipeline. During her tenure as Executive Director of the Center, she spearheaded the National Resource Center’s national and international collaboration and partnerships, thought leadership, advancement of publication and professional development outlets, grant acquisition, service development and delivery, and expansion of channels for resource sharing and communication, including online and social media. Dr. Keup has also held positions as the Director of the Student Affairs Information and Research Office (SAIRO) at UCLA and the Director of Follow-up Surveys for the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at the Higher Education Research Institute.

Dr. Keup’s scholarship, leadership, teaching, and service focus on two complementary areas: (a) student success, particularly during the transition to college, and (b) high-impact practices and institutional interventions. Under the umbrella of this agenda, she has engaged in work on many topics, including the first-year experience; college student characteristics; the impact of college on students; student access, development, and learning; curriculum and student services; peer leadership; community colleges and transfer; student performance and degree attainment; and institutional effectiveness and assessment. Keup is a co-author of the book Developing and Sustaining Successful First-Year Programs: A Guide for Practitioners and of the CAS Cross-Functional Framework for First-Year Experiences. She also has published several pieces on first-year seminars/experiences and other high-impact practices in scholarly outlets, such as the Journal of College Student Development; Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice; Journal of College Orientation and Transition; Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice; Journal of Higher Education; and the New Directions series by Wiley.

Keup was a principal investigator for the National Resource Center’s involvement in a Bill and Melinda Gates-funded Solution Network focused on identifying, building, and scaling effective and equitable advising solutions across the field of higher education. In addition, she is a research affiliate with the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education, a member of the advisory board for the NASPA Center for First-generation Student Success; a former directorate board chair for the ACPA Commission for Admissions, Orientation, and First-Year Experience; and on several editorial boards for higher education journals in the United States and internationally. She currently serves as both an Affiliate Scholar and Senior Fellow with the National Resource Center.

Keup is a proud three-time alum of UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master's and Ph.D. in higher education and organizational change.

Jennifer Keup, Ph.D.
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