UNC Charlotte is known as an institution for those with a pioneering spirit, and Kristan Holzman welcomed the opportunity to be a trailblazer.
She joined the University in August 2015 in the newly created position of withdrawal advisor for Student Assistance and Support Services in the Dean of Students Office. In this role, she is working directly with students who are experiencing personal, medical or military crises, and they need to apply for full withdrawal with extenuating circumstances (WE). She also advises students who seek partial WEs.
“It can be a challenge for students when they are experiencing a crisis and needing to leave the University. There are a variety of things that students will need to complete and my position is meant to guide the student through the process,” said Holzman.
Within a few months of starting, Holzman had created a website, conferred with University colleagues, developed benchmarks for assessment purposes and reached out to individuals at other colleges who were in a similar job.
“I discovered that there are very few dedicated withdrawal advisors,” Holzman stated. “Often, I talked with a case manager or an assistant director who advised students about withdrawals as part of their job.”
Since fall 2015, Holzman noted that her office has received about 200 requests per semester from students about WEs (full or partial). About half of the students decided to move forward and are approved each semester.
“The number of requests is on the increase, but often, students meet with me to gain a better understanding of the process. We talk about their situation, and I provide options to enable them to make better informed decisions,” said Holzman.
In some cases, students decide to work with their professors or academic advisors instead of taking full or partial WEs and use the self-withdrawal process as part of the 16 credit hour limit.
“UNC Charlotte is growing, and I think change is desired in how we work with our students,” Holzman stated. “I recall the chancellor at my first Convocation discussing change and how he supported it. I have the ability to implement changes that are having a positive impact in the lives of students and their families, and several have expressed their appreciation for having someone in this position on campus.”
Holzman also chairs the committee that approves a student’s return following a WE. “We review their case prior to them coming back, and we recommend services and support that will help them succeed. We work with students from a care and concern perspective; we want our students to return and be in a better position than when they left.”
A “product of the UNC system,” Holzman completed a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Western Carolina University; her master’s in college student development is from Appalachian State University.
Prior to UNC Charlotte, she worked at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. She and husband Mark have a daughter Hannah, who is almost 3 years old. Away from work, she’s an avid reader and enjoys watching crime dramas.
“Fun fact – I love squirrels. I’m not sure where my fascination began, but I think they’re cute. Geese are prevalent here, but at USC, there were big, fat gray squirrels everywhere. The majority of my Christmas tree ornaments are squirrels, and I’ve been known to brake hard for one in the middle of the road,” said Holzman.
This article originally appeared in Inside UNC Charlotte.