Swoope begins her tenure as vice president

New Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management



Melinda Swoope, who previously held several administrative posts at HBCUs was selected to lead the Office of Student Affairs and Environmental Management.

Kendal Manns, Editor-in-Chief

Alabama State University has a new member on its leadership team, Malinda Swoope, who will serve as the new vice president of student affairs and enrollment management at the university.
The Houston, Texas, native received her bachelor’s degree from Texas Southern University in chemistry, her doctorate from the University of California at Davis in agricultural and environmental chemistry and her postdoctoral experience in environmental health sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
She served as the associate provost for academic affairs at her previous institution of Edward Waters College, however she calls Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University home as she served 15 years as an associate professor of chemistry and special assistant to the president for strategic planning and initiatives.
Despite her not attending Alabama State University, her ties to the university run deep, as both of her parents met at the university as undergraduates.
“My dad pledged Kappa here, my mom pledged Delta Sigma Theta and you know, it’s just in my blood,” Swoope said. “So, I kind of grew up learning a lot about the history and offerings here at Alabama State University and just the overall mission of the HBCU period. And of course, I always love me a good SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) school.”
Even though she is fairly new to the university in her role, Swoope has clear goals that she wants to address.
“First and foremost are our students’ well-being and our students’ health when it comes to mental health and mental awareness and being healthy…,” she said.
Swoope has already begun partnering with the university’s counseling center and the university’s health center to identify initiatives to best attend to students’ needs. One of those initiatives is the health center’s monthly meditation sessions.
“All of those things [are done] to just really touch the student where they need to be touched and reach the student where they need to be reached,” she said. “When you look at the rise of suicides and the events that occur that surround mental health, you see that there’s a high demand and there’s a high need for assistance in that area.”
Along with tending to the students’ mental health, Swoope also wants to build the student body’s trust. She boasts of an open-door policy where she is available to listen to what students have to say. Having student involvement is important to her.
“It’s not a dictatorship or anything of that nature,” she said. “I want them [the students] to be actively involved and participate and you know, when there are decisions that need to be made that involve the students. I l would like have the students at the table.”
Another focus of Swoope’s is to help unify the community support on and off campus, buying into the theme of “Communiversity.”
“We sit right in the heart of Montgomery,” she said. “And so, it’s important that we enhance and strengthen those relationships with the city, alumni, local businesses, local churches, the students and the rest of the staff here on the campus.”
With those strengthened relationships, she hopes to provide additional resources to assist students. One of the ways she wants to assist students is by leading and developing a true leadership program for them to use.
In preparation for her ambitious goals, Swoope has begun meeting with members of different divisions to get as much input as possible. Considering herself a “team player,” she desires to build a strong team within the offices supervised by student affairs, including financial aid, enrollment management and student success.
Swoope is bringing her experience from previous institutions and her chemistry background to the university and wants to ensure the cost is worth the investment. Using the chemistry major as an example, she explained her thinking.
“When you’re looking at new degree programs and degree offerings, what is going to be the cost? If they have that kind of investment, are you going to be able to have the number of students that you need to truly focus on that major? In that particular degree program, is the money that is going to cost to hire the new faculty or hire the new staff member or purchase the instrumentation or whatever software that may be needed for that particular program, is it going to benefit in the long run?”
As a mother herself, Swoope believes that she can truly enhance the student experience. Her nurturing ways can be the key to her success at the university and the development of trust with the student body.
“I want the students to know I’m here for them,” she said. “The student is first. The student is my customer and that is my priority. And I just want to make sure that I stand as an advocate [for the students] and a leader and do the best that I possibly can for them. I want them to trust me and know that I have their best interest at heart.”