‘I love being a Hokie’: Monica Kimbrell named associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs
August 2, 2021
Jubilation poured through the phone.
Monica Kimbrell had just answered a call from a high school senior and her parent. A giddy family wanted to share heartwarming news.
After applying for a competitive scholarship, the student had earned the exact amount she needed to enroll in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech.
“They screamed with excitement into the phone!” said Kimbrell. “This was a top moment in my career and a testament to how the generous gifts from members of our college community can make the dream of becoming a Hokie possible.”
At the time, Kimbrell was serving as the college’s assistant dean for undergraduate recruitment and experiential learning. But she knew from experience how it feels to enroll as a student in College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Kimbrell earned both a bachelor’s and Ph.D. in human development from Virginia Tech.
In her professional career with the college, she can recall moment after moment reminding her why she loves helping students grow.
She remembers encouraging a former student intern who wanted to attend her dream law school after graduating from Virginia Tech.
The student had felt disheartened in the leadup to taking the LSAT, a test required by law schools to gain entry. Kimbrell met with her frequently to support her persistence and preparation.
“Not only did she excel on the test, but she was admitted to multiple excellent law schools, graduated with her law degree, and landed the job she wanted,” said Kimbrell, who has helped hundreds of student participate in internships. “She still keeps in touch with regular updates. She often comments on how she uses the skills she developed as an intern in her work today.”
In nearly 11 years as a Virginia Tech employee, Kimbrell has experienced enough rewarding moments to fill Lane Stadium. She hopes to create even more through a new position.
As of July 1, Kimbrell is now serving as the college’s associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs. Her predecessor, Daniel Thorp, will continue serving the college as an associate professor in the Department of History.
Kimbrell’s key responsibilities include oversight of a range of matters relevant to undergraduate studies, including curriculum management and development, career development, enrollment management, advising, retention, recruitment, the first-year experience, scholarship awarding, and orientation.
Kimbrell has entered her new position with ideas to serve students and the college community. She will focus on advising initiatives related to academic and career success and providing resources and support for underserved and underrepresented students. She’ll also work to expand the enrollment management process from recruitment to retention to graduation.
“Graduates from our college carry a strong foundation in the liberal arts and human sciences along with digital skills to respond to a changing world,” said Kimbrell. “My goal is for our college to be the destination for top talent in liberal arts and human sciences and a model program for preparing graduates for the careers of the future.”
Kimbrell joined the college in a professional capacity in 2014 as director of recruitment and career development.
Initially, she focused on positioning the college to exceed enrollment goals while recruiting students in search of fulfilling careers with top employers. Since 2014, the number of applications to the college has increased by nearly 200 percent and the incoming class size increased by over 125 percent.
The college also experienced significant increases in the number of applicants from underserved and underrepresented groups.
Kimbrell cherishes the opportunity to meet with students through career advising appointments. The meetings involve working with students to figure out what they want to accomplish, how they can translate their skills to the work world, and the industry landscape. Helping students develop résumés is Kimbrell’s favorite part of the process.
In her work with student interns, Kimbrell practices a lesson passed to her by one of her own advisors.
“I had a great mentor who always told me the only way to thank her was to pay it forward,” said Kimbrell. “Hosting interns is just one way I try to pay it forward. Interns are an important part of the college’s team, and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to support them in gaining valuable experiences and skills.”
Kimbrell has also collaborated with Meghan Jester, the college’s newly appointed assistant dean for student recruitment and career development, on several initiatives. For example, the two created a stop-in program that evolved into Walk-in Wednesdays, a chance to talk about internships and résumés, study abroad, and undergraduate research.
Additional roles for Kimbrell include teaching courses in human development, serving as faculty facilitator for Philologia, an undergraduate research journal for liberal arts and human sciences, and serving on university committees.
Students have responded to Kimbrell’s determination to help them succeed. Recently, Kimbrell earned the Favorite Faculty for Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) award. Candidates for the honor are nominated by students and selected by a committee of students, faculty, and staff.
Laura Belmonte, the college’s dean, said she was confident in Kimbrell’s ability to deliver on her vision.
“I am truly delighted to promote Monica to this vital role for the college,” Belmonte said. “I have been immensely impressed by her extraordinary commitment to the success of college and helping our students and their families make informed decisions about their educational and career paths. Her passion for her work is infectious.”
Kimbrell said working for the college is a dream come true.
“I love being a Hokie and contributing to the college through recruitment, retention, and career development opportunities. Having a seat to watch other Hokies find their purpose and live out Ut Prosim is a dream job,” she said. “I love that our college community is diverse, growing rapidly, and evolving to meet the demands of tomorrow.”
Written by Andrew Adkins