English professor Michael Soto will develop comprehensive plans for student retention and other academic initiatives
by Susie P. Gonzalez
Michael Soto, professor of English and founding director of the McNair Scholars Program at Trinity University, has been named associate vice president for Academic Affairs: Student Academic Issues and Retention.
Soto, who is committed to providing a student-centered academic experience, will be responsible for developing, managing, and assessing a comprehensive plan to improve retention of undergraduates and lead a range of other academic initiatives, including New Student Orientation and the Academic Honor Code and Council.
He will begin his new assignment June 1, reporting to Deneese L. Jones, vice president for Academic Affairs.
“Dr. Soto will certainly be an asset to this position because of his prior innovative service with the McNair Program and his tremendous ability to understand first generation/underrepresented groups. He has effectively demonstrated that he is an excellent communicator and that will be an important skill for the responsibilities associated with this job,” Jones said.
Soto also will coordinate first-year student academic advising and adviser training and resolve exceptions to academic policies, including academic records, course substitutions, grade changes, and overload approvals.
Soto said he is proud of the gains the University has achieved on behalf of first generation, low-income students and strongly believes those “learned lessons” can be applied to the wider student body. As a former chair of the Trinity University Curriculum Council, he presided over the creation of two ambitious interdisciplinary programs, East Asian Studies at Trinity and Entrepreneurship. He said his approach to the post will be to “continue tried-and-true collaborative principles” and to engage in “purposeful and humble listening” to foster student success.
Soto arrived at Trinity in 1999 and is a specialist in twentieth-century American literature and cultural history, with a particular focus on modernist movements and the literature of ethnicity. His most recent book published in November, Measuring the Harlem Renaissance: The U.S. Census, African American Identity, and Literary Form, offers an important new analysis of the Harlem Renaissance literary movement of the twentieth century as seen through the lens of the U.S. Census and how racial categories shaped minority identities.
He was director of the McNair Scholars Program from 2007-16, chair of the University Curriculum Council from 2008-09, and member of the Texas State Board of Education from 2011-12. Soto holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a master’s and doctorate in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University.
Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations, can be reached at susie.gonzalez [at] trinity.edu (susie.gonzalez [at] trinity.edu) or @susiegonz.