The End of a Chapter

By Chloe Rodriguez, CHASS Dean Student Intern
May 1, 2017

“I’m real excited. I am not retiring from, but retiring to”

Geoff Cohen, Director of CHASS First: First Year Experience, has been a part of the UCR community since he first arrived in the Fall of 1990 as a graduate living in what is now Student Family Housing. Not only has Geoff been a part of the community, but his father was a professor, and his wife is an associate professor in the English Department. In almost 30 years at UCR, Cohen has worn many hats as a grad student, lecturer, visiting assistant professor, and an academic coordinator.

His position as an academic coordinator started in 2003 in the CHASS Connect Program which, at the time, held three sequences and 225 students. He taught in one of the sequences in Winter 2003, after the Associate Dean at the time, Sharon Salinger, who ran the CHASS Connect Program, invited Geoff to apply to run the Winter sequence. “it was one of the most amazing teaching experiences”, he states. For the sixteen years, Geoff has been running the program while also teaching. “I’ve been lucky in my career…I have had amazing support from both the administration and the faculty, also from students”. 

In the first year, CHASS Connect welcomed 190 students. This year, 2500 students participated in the CHASS Learning Communities – 90% of the CHASS Freshman class. For 2017-2018, Geoff along with others are aiming toward 93-95% of CHASS students. This last year, he is making sure that all programming is in place for a smooth transition, “so that there are seats for all the freshman to be in learning communities in the Fall”. Geoff is also working on a couple of other projects. The first is a research project that looks at the value of being a Peer Mentor. He is currently in contact with Peer Mentors from 2002 all the way through to this year, to see what they are doing now, some are teachers, working in student affairs, involved in social work, etc. The second project is a report on Retention in Graduation Rates from students in the learning communities from 2002 to present. There are certain changes at different points in time and his goal is to map out what the changes were, qualitatively and quantitatively understanding the growth of student success in CHASS from the last sixteen years.

“I’m real excited. I am not retiring from, but I am retiring to” Geoff says as he plans on doing what he has been wanting to do since he was younger, writing full time. He is currently working on a 300-page manuscript of a novel along with a couple of other book projects. He realized that writing was taking over and didn’t feel like he was giving the students 110% like he normally did. Though he is excited about writing full time he is also sad about leaving everybody who had made an impact on him and vice versa. “One of the things that I really am going to miss is the engagement with these really bright capable students that represent the amazing diversity and who challenge me on an everyday basis about my understanding of the purpose of education”. Cohen is also working on a novel formed by his experiences at UCR, “There is a very strong tradition in CHASS that I have participated in…by opening doors and valuing diversity. I am excited about what is going to happen next for the college. I think it will be a positive thing, there are good people in place”.

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