Lee welcomes Dr. Roy Chan as new LEAP director

Lee welcomes Dr. Roy Chan as new LEAP director

A student success program for first-generation and underrepresented Lee students is having a transition in leadership as Dr. Roy Chan replaces founding director Dr. Suzzane Holt. 

As a first-generation college student and a minority himself, Chan understands the value of a program that enables disadvantaged students with the tools to flourish in college.

“I have a heart for administrative work in higher education, especially with diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on campus,” said Chan. “I felt like this was a calling God wanted me to pursue, working for the inclusion of disadvantaged populations.”

The Learn, Engage, and Achieve Program (LEAP) is a federally-funded program that was established in 2015. Its funding comes from a five-year grant of $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Education, as reported by the Cleveland Daily Banner.

Photo by Taylor Baker, Photo Editor.

Students who qualify for the LEAP program receive scholarships, mentoring, early class registration and access to various workshops and resources as part of their contract with the school.

Debbie Murray, the vice president for academic affairs, explained that LEAP bridges the gap for students who do not have the same means as their peers. 

“The program is for students who are bright and capable of high achievement, but who may benefit from various kinds and amounts of additional resources,” said Murray. 

Senior health science major Haley Isbill has been in the LEAP program for the past four years. Although disappointed to hear that Dr. Holt was retiring, she is excited to see how Chan will advance the program.

“He [Chan] seems to know a little about everything,” said Isbill. “He’s a very intelligent person. He loves learning and helping other people succeed.”

Chan’s educational credentials are as diverse as their origins—from California to Boston to Hong Kong. However, a common theme is threaded between the masters and PhDs. 

“All my degrees had a focus on diversity and inclusion,” said Chan.

While pursuing a PhD at Indiana University in Bloomington, Chan worked for the 21st Century Scholars state program, overseeing the success of over 3,000 students. However, Chan explained, students were often seen as a number, and it was challenging to make personal connections with them.

“I wanted to have a change in environment, and I connected well with the Christian and liberal arts focus,” said Chan. “I wanted to be in a place where I could at least make a dent and help advance that institution into the future.”

Murray’s first interactions with Chan were over the phone. But when they toured the campus together, her initial impressions were proven true. 

“When we met in person, I was even more impressed. I found him to be kind and gentle, a man of compassion and deep faith,” said Murray. “Roy Chan is a great fit for Lee University and for directing LEAP.”

Chan plans to continue the broad program structure set in place by his predecessor. He also plans on implementing additional marketing, advertising and awareness of LEAP. 

Chan has an optimistic outlook on the future of diversity and inclusion on Lee’s campus.

“We believe that LEAP has an impact on the university. This may be the beginning process of having a diversity office here at Lee,” Chan said. “We are a very unique program, compared to other TRIO programs in the U.S. That's exciting to be a part of.” 

For more information about LEAP, visit http://www.leeuniversity.edu/leap/.

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