Roney, Marlesa

Roney, PhD
Year Inducted: 
Marlesa Roney
  • Vice Provost for Student Success at the University of Kansas, responsible for 20 departments and offices
  • Former Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Akron
  • Former Senior Project Officer for the Lilly Endowment Retention Initiatives and Registrar at Purdue University
  • Restructured Student Services and added academic services to create new Office of Student Success
  • Initiated creation of the Priority Groups process to address a range of academic, faculty, recruitment, and diversity issues 

Dr. Marlesa Roney has undeniably had an impressive and significant impact on the University of Kansas’ Student Success organization in addition to the university as a whole.  Dr. Roney came to KU in July 2003 as Vice Provost for Student Success following a successful three-year career as Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Akron and a nineteen-year career at Purdue University.  The position at the University of Kansas offered Dr. Roney the opportunity to return to her Kansas roots; Vice Provost Roney grew up in Concordia, Kansas and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Elementary Education from Kansas State University (1980).  One year later, Dr. Roney was awarded her Master of Science degree in Counseling & Student Personnel, also from Kansas State University (1981).  Four years later, in 1985, Dr. Roney attained her Ph.D. in Student Personnel Administration from Purdue University, the same institution where she began her career in Student Affairs. 

In her role as Vice Provost, Dr. Roney provides leadership for nineteen departments within Student Success which includes 900 employees and 1700 student employees.  One of Dr. Roney’s first tasks upon arrival to the University of Kansas was the restructuring of Student Services to integrate services previously linked with academics into the existing “traditional” student services.  The new organization was named Student Success to communicate the new mission, philosophy and structure.  This embodies Dr. Roney’s focus - on putting students first and facilitating success.   

Dr. Roney also initiated the creation of the Priority Groups process, which involved eleven initiatives and involved over 200 staff, faculty, and students to research and report on the crucial issues identified.  These issues included assessment, diversity, communication, entrepreneurship, graduate and professional students, help desk concept, recruitment, retention, staff development, thematic learning communities, and wellness.  Other landmark initiatives include the development and expansion of key Student Success departments and the development, implementation, and communication of the highly innovative Four-Year Tuition Compact.  Dr. Roney is meeting recruitment and enrollment goals to increase the quality and diversity of the student body and contributing to improve freshman retention rates. 

Dr. Roney’s influence as a leader is apparent in her many roles as an administrator, a teacher, a role model, a colleague, and a friend.  Former KU student Jessica St. Clair noted that “she will not let me accept less than my all.” She is noted as an advocate and role model for women.  States Mary Chappell, Director, KU Recreation Services, “Marlesa is truly a visionary when it comes to keeping women’s issues a priority.”  Dr. Richard Morrell, Associate Vice Provost for Student Success also comments on Dr. Roney’s influence:  “Dr. Roney serves as an exemplary role model not only to KU students, but also to the KU staff, faculty, and friends of KU who come in contact with her on a routine basis as she works tirelessly with determined persistence to make KU a better place for all of us.”

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