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All undergraduate, graduate, and professional students at Carolina deserve equal and equitable opportunities to maximize their full academic, professional, and personal potential. The Richards Administration recognizes disparities in access and utilization to these key resources across student identities, backgrounds, and learning experiences of students here at Carolina. The Richards Administration aims to create equitable access to academic and professional resources for all students through student advocacy and policy initiatives.


Meet Phoebe

Phoebe Pak (she/her/hers), usgacademics@unc.edu

Phoebe Pak serves as the Director of the Department of Academic Affairs and Professional Development on the Cabinet of the Richards Administration.

Phoebe is a junior from Cary, NC double majoring in Neuroscience & Health Policy and Management with a minor in Chemistry. On campus, she is involved with the ambassador leadership team at the Office of Undergraduate Research and is a research assistant at Gillings School of Global Public Health. She has been involved in the Executive Branch for the past two years and has worked within the Academic Affairs Committee and Dean of Arts and Sciences Committee.

Phoebe’s goals for the upcoming year are to proactively research, analyze, and identify root causes of inequity and disparities within our system and bring voices of unheard and marginalized to the table to bring about positive, long-lasting impacts on educational policy, curriculum design, and renovating access to and use of academic resources for all students to equitably thrive and pursue their passion and maximize professional growth throughout their time and beyond Carolina.


Assistant Directors

Meet Victoria

Victoria Bryant, vicbry@live.unc.edu

Victoria Bryant serves as the Assistant Director of Research and Innovation as part of the Department of Academic Affairs and Professional Development for the Richards Administration.

Victoria is a junior from Garner, NC double majoring in Public Policy & Political Science with a minor in Spanish for the Legal Professions. She is currently dedicating herself to explorations of Black girlhood in educational spaces and seeks to reconstruct the educational images of Black girls. On campus, she most recently served as the Co-Chair of the Black Student Movement’s (BSM) Political Action Committee. Victoria is also a North Carolina Fellow and was previously a research assistant in the UNC School of Education. Currently, she is an IAAR-SLATE Research Fellow in which she is conducting research that focuses on race, racism, and racial equity as it pertains to people of African descent.

Victoria’s goals for the upcoming year are to identify existing disparities and barriers to quality research opportunities for marginalized students. She understands the power of substantive research in the empowerment and validation of underrepresented student voices.

Meet Ryan

Ryan Smith, ryands02@email.unc.edu

Ryan Smith serves as the Assistant Director of Academic Advising and Registration as part of the Department of Academic Affairs and Professional Development for the Richards Administration.

Ryan is a sophomore from Durham, NC majoring in Biology with a minor in Statistics. On campus, Ryan is involved with the Black Student Movement and has worked with UNC’s Innovate Carolina initiative. Outside of UNC, Ryan works with underrepresented students to expose them to careers in science and technology. He has been involved in the Executive Branch throughout his time at UNC and previously worked in the Academic Affairs committee.

Ryan’s goals for the upcoming year are to promote more diversity and inclusivity within the Department to better support minority students, first-generation students, and transfer students. He hopes to help create and maintain mentorship-based advising and increase the recruitment of advisors from underrepresented backgrounds.

Meet Maha

Maha Butt, maha1301@email.unc.edu

Maha Butt serves as the Assistant Director of Professional Development and Career Services as part of the Department of Academic Affairs and Professional Development for the Richards Administration.

Maha is a senior majoring in Political Science with minors in PPE and Statistics. In addition to her role in the Department, she is a member of State and External Affairs and multiple advisory committees. She was previously a member of the First Year Focus Council, Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor (SACC), and the Carolina Away Advisory Committee. Outside of Student Government, Maha is involved with various research projects in Political Science and is currently pursuing an Honors thesis. 

Maha’s goals for the upcoming year include making professional development opportunities more accessible to marginalized and underrepresented communities by working directly with University Career Services. She hopes to make virtual education easier to navigate for the student body given the extenuating circumstances that surround us this year. She looks forward to working with other assistant directors in her department to make academic affairs and professional development convenient for every student so that the student body can work towards their goals without any significant impediments.

Meet Ashley

Ashley Huff, adhuff@live.unc.edu

Ashley Huff serves as the Assistant Director of Admissions and Enrollment Services as part of the Department of Academic Affairs and Professional Development for the Richards Administration.

Ashley is a sophomore from Charlotte, NC double majoring in Public Policy and Religious studies with a PPE minor. On campus, she is involved in Greek Life, has worked in the Academic Affairs committee for the past two years, and serves as an ambassador for Honors Carolina and the Scholars Program. She is a founding member of an education-equity focused nonprofit based in Charlotte, NC.

This coming year, she is excited to lead initiatives that push for better Recruitment and Outreach strategies of underrepresented populations and improving the Retention rates of disproportionately affected populations.

Meet Noah

Noah Ellington, nelling@live.unc.edu

Noah Ellington serves as the Assistant Director of Educational Policy and Curriculum as part of the Department of Academic Affairs and Professional Development for the Richards Administration. He previously served as a member and later chair of the Academic Affairs Committee for the previous administration. 

Noah is a junior from Zebulon, North Carolina. He majors in Political Science with minors in Spanish and City and Regional Planning. He is passionate about public service and fostering community on a local level. Additionally, Noah is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion on campus, particularly as it relates to equitable academic policies. 

Noah’s goals for the upcoming year include overhauling the university’s current grade forgiveness and attendance policy as well as facilitating a smooth transition to the Ideas In Action Curriculum, planned to be implemented in the Fall of 2022. For the Richards Administration, he will sit on the Educational Policy Committee, a group of faculty and campus leaders who makes important formal decisions on academic policy initiatives. 


Department Initiatives for the Richards Administration

Grade Forgiveness/Course Repeat Policy – The Department of Academic Affairs and Professional Development will work with the Academic Eligibility & Outreach Office to ensure students are able to equitably foster success, helping them reach their academic goals through removing unnecessary barriers to student success, including rate-limiting steps to graduation, as well as reviewing, evaluating, and improving policies and processes. The department will work towards enabling students to have academic success (grade exclusion and course repeat policies) through removing restrictive educational policies.

Promotion of undergraduate Research and Professional Experiences – The Department will work with the Office of the Provost to establish the Research Scholars Program to place more marginalized students in paid positions throughout campus and with our community partners and faculty mentors. These students will be supported during the academic year and with additional unique opportunities during the Summer, including a Black Mentoring Network hosted with the local NAACP, Carolina Black Caucus, and Black Alumni Reunion.

Academic Advising & Peer Advising Reform – The Department will work with Academic Advising to better integrate practices that are more welcoming and inviting to marginalized communities while also fostering a more robust advising infrastructure to guide students throughout their tenure at Carolina. Continuation of work to implement an updated and reformed Peer Advising program will be addressed with the hope that it can help to remedy some of the strain and inefficiencies currently existing; Academic Affairs and Professional Development is currently advocating for its inclusion in the incoming Hub Model of Advising.

Admission and Retention of student from marginalized backgrounds – The Department will strongly advocate to the Educational Policy Committee, individual graduate and professional programs, and the Deans Council to ensure that all graduate and professional programs, including terminal programs, move to a test-optional policy. The Department will advocate tirelessly to ensure that graduate and professional programs no longer require the submission of any exam results to be considered for admission and that students who choose to submit exam results are not more likely to be accepted simply because they submitted exam results.

Textbook & Professional Preparation Material Affordability – The Department will ensure continued advocacy for low-cost options for learning supplies being implemented in at least 75% of offered classes. We will also work to require faculty members to have a reasonable monetary maximum on the dollar amount of supplies or supplemental learning materials that they can require as a part of their course.

Lecture Capture Project – The Department will work with the Faculty Governance Council on undergraduate classroom and curriculum development to ensure most classes require all faculty to upload their online lectures for students’ equitable learning, increasing educational accessibility.

ConnectCarolina Restructure – In coordination with the Office of Undergraduate Curricula, the Department will provide student feedback for Course Feature projects to be efficiently implemented and to be utilized by Faculty.

Course Registration Reform – In coordination with Operational Excellence of the Provost Office, the Department will help inform decisions regarding the new course registration process that is planned to be implemented in the Spring of 2022 for Fall 2022 courses. The Department will serve as a liaison to help inform any problems that may arise to this end.

Graduate and Professional Programs Advocacy – Finally, the Department will staunchly advocate for the development, institution, and engagement of programming, events, and additional academic opportunities for graduate and professional students and programs.