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Academic Spotlight: Executive Director of Academic Effectiveness Dr. Meleena Eaton

Dr. Meleena Eaton, executive director of Academic Effectiveness at in SNHUDr. Meleena Eaton is the executive director of Academic Effectiveness at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). She has more than 15 years of experience in marketing and undergraduate marketing education and holds a doctorate of business administration in marketing from National University. She also earned a master's in integrated marketing communications from Suffolk University.

Recently she answered questions about her views on education, how she connects with students and more.

Can you tell us about your professional background?

I spent my career prior to higher education working in marketing on both the client and agency sides. I joined SNHU as a faculty lead in marketing where I was able to put my then 15+ years experience working in marketing to work in supporting the undergraduate marketing program at SNHU.

What first drew you to higher education?

I worked as the graduate assistant with the Speech and Debate Team while I was getting my master’s degree at Suffolk University. The opportunity to work with and support undergraduate students quickly became a passion that I was able to turn into a career at SNHU.

What aspects of your own education have been influential in shaping your career in academia?

I always tell people that I chose to work in academia because my experience in K-12 and in my undergraduate were not overly positive and I saw (an) opportunity to create different and better opportunities for students and faculty. I knew how transformative education can be and I wanted to find ways to make it more accessible and enjoyable to more people.

What attracted you to this field of study? What keeps you excited about it?

I was a marketer long before I knew it could be a field of study or a career. I love the ideation and research elements of marketing and see it as a true intersection of art and science. There is never a shortage of challenges or opportunities and being able to share my experience with students is so much fun. Marketing is always changing, and because of that there is always something new to learn and something new to teach.

How have you found ways to effectively connect with students?

I try to meet students where they are. I have found that while some students do want to connect outside of the classroom environment, for most, the most effective way to connect with them is through meaningful and personalized discussion board responses and feedback. Timely grading and a consistent presence in the online classroom (are) powerful tool(s) to stay connected.

What brings you the greatest joy in your work?

The team of people I get to work with is what brings me the greatest joy. Together we take on challenging and serious issues that impact student success and the faculty experience. The work can be hard, but because of our team culture you never feel like you are in something alone. It is an honor to get to work alongside them.

What do you feel is unique about the faculty and students you work with?

Our students are here for a reason — they are goal-driven, motivated and intentional in their actions. The dedication to the work to be done and ability to do that work in the face of competing commitments always impresses me.

One never needs to look further than an introductory discussion post to be inspired by our students. Our faculty, also typically have competing commitments as many are full-time employees in their field of expertise but share a commitment to the SNHU mission, and this shared mission binds us together into the larger SNHU community.

What does SNHU’s mission to transform the lives of learners mean to you?

There are a number of ways one can change the trajectory of their life. But education remains one of the most impactful and that is what we do at SNHU.

We provide opportunity to learn, to grow, and to achieve goals that for some had been set aside. We provide access to information, certificates and degrees that without us may have been out of reach.

It sounds so simple, maybe because it is, but to me our mission is about helping our students to realize their full potential. To help them see in themselves the good and the intelligence and the capabilities that were there before us. At SNHU we see each student and we work every day to help them achieve their goals.

Outside of work, what’s something you’re passionate about or really enjoy doing?

I am a person with a million hobbies. I serve on the board of the local youth theater, love to paint and crochet and write. But most importantly, I am always right off stage wherever my two kids are, be it a lacrosse field, a tennis court or an actual stage. I love watching them become who they will be and am thankful to be able to cheer them along from the sidelines.

A degree can change your life. Choose your program from 200+ SNHU degrees that can take you where you want to go.

Joe Cote is a writer and organic marketer at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), where he has worked since 2016. Previously he spent more than a dozen years as a reporter and editor at weekly and daily newspapers in Vermont and New Hampshire. He lives near SNHU's Manchester, New Hampshire campus with his wife and daughter. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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