Interim Dean of Students shares her passion for student success
- Mary Bidwell
- Thursday, September 9th, 2021
Even after 24 years on the Hill, Dr. Martha Sales looks forward to learning something new alongside Hilltoppers this year as she tackles a new role on campus: Interim Dean of Students.
A four-time alumna of WKU, Sales has strong connections to campus and is excited to continue working with students in her new role. Originally from Franklin, Sales came to campus as a first-generation and low-income student, which helped fuel her desire to serve students.
After earning her undergraduate degree in social work and a minor in African American Studies, Sales started helping others forge their path to WKU. As an Educational Talent Search counselor, she supported first-generation and Pell-eligible students through academic, career, and financial counseling.
As Interim Dean of Students, Sales continues to devote time and energy to helping students come to WKU and succeed on campus.
"I think students should know that I'm here to assist them with the climb. I'm all about building relationships with students and about hearing what they have to say. I want students to know that, in essence, I work for them!"
Highlighting her commitment to student success, Sales hopes to help students thrive on campus and beyond.
"It's not just about getting students here. It's about helping students stay here and graduate from the university. And I would like to add - not just graduate, but help them find careers that they are interested in," Sales remarked.
As part of helping students find their path forward, Sales also emphasized the potential for lifelong transformation through a college degree.
"A lot of students across our Commonwealth come to college in hopes of social mobility and to provide a better life for themselves - and sometimes even their families," Sales shared.
For Sales, the foundation of this work lies in connecting with students and building new relationships that will strengthen over time.
"I want WKU to be a place where students feel like this is their place - not just while they are here, but even after they leave and they become alumni. I want them to be excited about being a WKU student, graduate, and continue to be a part of this rich tradition," Sales shared.
Sales is also excited to strengthen connections with campus departments - especially with offices that may be lesser-known, but help place students in a better position to succeed.
As part of her job description, Sales also oversees various offices and centers that work closely with students.
"Currently, I oversee eight TRIO programs, the WKU Intercultural Student Engagement Center (ISEC), the Student Accessibility Resource Center (SARC), the WKU Office of Student Conduct, and the WKU Counseling Center," Sales shared.
Sales is also continuing in her prior role as the Executive Director of WKU TRIO Programs and the WKU Intercultural Student Engagement Center (ISEC). Founded in 2017, ISEC aims to recruit, retain, and help students of color graduate from WKU. Utilizing strategies from her prior experience with TRIO programs, Sales was a key figure in establishing the Center. This role also provides her with numerous opportunities to connect with WKU students each year.
Building on those initial connections, Sales hopes to reach even more students in her newest role through campus events and casual conversations.
For example, Sales plans to start a series of monthly events in collaboration with the academic deans. These occasions would allow students to learn more about her role at the university and ask questions in an informal setting. She also welcomes students to make an appointment to talk with her one-on-one.
"I think the best communication often is organic. Just being out of my office, walking around campus, and talking to students - I want students to see me before they have to see me," Sales noted.
Sales highlighted how our campus community is a family and her hopes to facilitate stronger connections within the WKU family. She plans to work with student leaders, residential students, commuters, regional campus students, graduate students, and others at WKU. Many of her upcoming initiatives center around making connections and providing opportunities to reconnect with WKU - especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, where establishing connections is challenging.
Sales shared, "a Dean of Students serves all the students. You can't just be a Dean of Students to certain students."
Outside the office, Sales is passionate about music and enjoys eating Snickers bars. She is an active member of her church and is dedicated to her faith and her family. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.