Introducing Jamie D. Motley, Chao Director of Student Success

Jamie Motley smiles at the camera. Behind her is lush green campus.
Image credit: Shannon O'Brien
Author  Aidan Reid ’24
Published on 

Jamie D. Motley is the new Anne Shen Chao ’74 Director of Student Success within the Anne Shen Chao ’74 Office of Student Success at Wellesley, where she develops programs and services for the College’s first-generation and low-income students. We recently asked Motley, who has been hard at work bringing visibility to what she and her team do, about her job, the Office of Student Success, and her first impressions of the Wellesley community.

What does a typical day look like for you as the director of the Office of Student Success (OSS)?

My days are fluid, honestly—and very busy! I started in this role in mid-January of this year and my work has evolved quite a bit since then. My first priorities were to meet with students, faculty, and staff, and become more intimately familiar with the Wellesley College community. I also had to work quickly to increase the visibility of the OSS through the creation of our website and Instagram page (@wellesleystudentsuccess). Since then, I have been coordinating the WellesleyPlus seminars, supervising eight student leaders who work for my office, attending meetings with various campus partners and the Office of Intercultural Education team, sponsoring and co-sponsoring events, and planning for the 2022–23 academic year. I am also a Wellesley representative in the NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education First-Gen Forward community, which consists of 268 institutions and meets monthly to discuss ways in which our institutions can best support our first-gen student populations.

Additionally, I was fortunate to be able to represent Wellesley at a recent Raise the B.A.R. (Bold + Action + Results) summit in Washington, D.C. Hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, the summit was attended by college and university leaders from around the country and focused on increasing equity and inclusivity at our respective institutions. I am very thankful to President Johnson for giving me the opportunity to attend this important event on behalf of Wellesley College!

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Fostering and celebrating student success, especially when it comes to our first-gen, low-income, and underrepresented student population. I’ve enjoyed doing this throughout my career, which has included work in TRIO Student Support Services, the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program (also known as the McNair Scholars Program), and similar programs that support FGLI (first-generation/low-income) students.

I was the first in my family to attend college right out of high school and live on campus, so I appreciated individuals, offices, and programs on campus tailored to students similar to myself. I remember how great it felt to have my own success celebrated as a college student—it was validating and made me want to work even harder to develop my talents and skills, because there were people who were genuinely proud of me and believed in me.

How do OSS programs help first-gen students at Wellesley?

WellesleyPlus is a longstanding program that now falls under the umbrella of OSS. It has a very rich history of helping FGLI students navigate college by connecting them to people, resources, and opportunities, and helping them feel a sense of belonging on campus. It is still a work in progress, as my arrival and the launch of OSS has created an avenue for new and innovative ways to support our first-gen student population.

The FLI Network has also been around for several years and provides opportunities for first-gen students to connect with each other, as well as with first-gen faculty, administrators, and alumnae.

Also, I have established a First-Gen Advisory Committee consisting of faculty, staff, and student representatives who are all committed to enhancing the college experience for our first-gen students here at Wellesley. We’re just getting started, but we will gain momentum in the upcoming academic year.

What would you like the campus community to know about your office?

That OSS is not an island, but part of a larger infrastructure at Wellesley that is in place to help FGLI students achieve educational and personal milestones, successfully matriculate through college, and go out into the world with the confidence that they can make a difference.

What do you like most about Wellesley so far?

Learning about the many talents and skills our students possess and helping them continue to develop these. Wellesley has students who are multidimensional, just like so many of the faculty and staff. They can be actively engaged in research, the performing arts, community service, and social justice initiatives, and Wellesley is a college that encourages them to nurture and, whenever possible, integrate these different interests. It is very easy to find inspiration here!