School of Education graduate feature — Dean of Students earns doctoral degree
Baldwin City, Kan. — When it came time to select a dissertation topic for her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership degree, Cassy Bailey chose one close to her heart — student retention.
As dean of students at Baker University for the past five years, Bailey and her staff have developed positive growth experiences for undergraduates, enhancing student engagement and increasing retention. She wants to create an environment where all Baker students are prepared to thrive during their time in Baldwin City.
Her dissertation was titled “The Relationship between Student Readiness Inventory Scores and First-Time, First-Year Student Retention and Academic Success at Baker University Baldwin City Campus.”
“I have a passion about retention,” Bailey said. “I think we do a good job about supporting students. We need to do a better job identifying at-risk students.”
Bailey will join six other Baker Ed. D. graduates during Spring Commencement on Sunday, May 20. Bailey started taking doctoral courses in August 2009 before completing her studies on April 2012. She traveled weekly from Baldwin to Baker’s Overland Park campus.
“I forgot how much I liked being a student and how much there was to learn,” Bailey said. “I loved the cohort model at Baker. I made very good friends and had a great experience in the classroom.”
Of the 20 members in her cohort, three have careers in higher education and the other students are working in the K-12 education field.
“It was good to combine those working in higher education with those in K-12,” Bailey said. “I had a true understanding what they’ve gone through, and that was helpful to me.”
For her research, Bailey examined four years of Baker cohort data, poring through GPA, retention rates and student readiness inventory to learn more about students’ psychological readiness for college. She plans to train Baker faculty members and academic advisers on how to better utilize Student Readiness Inventory scores to predict academic success and retention, and offer hope for other institutions to utilize the SRI instrument to meet retention goals.
“I really would like to work more with retention,” Bailey said. “The research and paper have made me more interested in the subject.”
In 1992 she graduated from Washington State with degrees in English and pre-law. She had her vocational “aha” moment her senior year while riding in the elevator of the administration building with the vice president of student affairs. Because of Bailey’s leadership and involvement on campus, the vice president casually told her she should go in to student affairs.
By the time she was 23, she had earned a master’s degree from Bowling Green in higher education student affairs. Bailey is looking forward to walking in her cap and gown across the Collins Center stage on the Baldwin City campus, a place she has called home since 2007. She will share the moment with her parents, Pete and Harriet Held, her husband, Erik, and her children, Emma and Jacob, and many of her colleagues.
“My staff and all my family have been phenomenal during the process,” Bailey said. “I could not have asked for more. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for all their love and support over these years.”
Bailey enjoys serving Baker as dean of students.
“I absolutely love my job,” she said. “It’s definitely the best job on campus. I cannot imagine a more fulfilling and impactful career choice for me. It was such a natural fit to my skill sets; I never regretted the path I took or the impulse to not pursue law in lieu of higher education.”
Baker University is committed to assuring student learning, and developing confident, competent and responsible contributors to society.