One of the first things Laura Thompson, newly-appointed Student Services Coordinator in the Robins School of Business, did upon her arrival was open the blinds in her office (which faces the Business School’s atrium) and rearrange the furniture.

“The way I’ve arranged my office maybe suggests how I approach students and their needs,” Thompson explained.  “I want the students to know that [my office] is a place where they’re open to be able to share.”  She moved her desk so that it now faces the window in front of the atrium, and she added more chairs in her office to encourage sitting down and engaging in conversation.

Thompson feels passionate about making her position as Student Services Coordinator- and herself- visible to students and faculty.  “I think it’s important that this position is visible, and I have an open-door policy,” she said.  “This position directly impacts students with academic advisement, their degree progress and should be a resource for how to navigate life as a student in the Robins School.”

In a sense, Thompson views herself as a gatekeeper or an initial resource for business students who have a question or a need in terms of academic advising or any Robins School-related matter. 

“While I might not be the person that students need to come to in every situation, I hope they know they can stop here first,” she said.  “From there, I can help coach them as to ‘When you get there, this is what you need to ask,’ or ‘This is how you advocate for yourself,’ and so on.”

Thompson's immediate supervisor, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Business Programs Robert Nicholson, has already noticed a difference in the way students interact with her position even in the short six weeks Thompson has been a part of the Robins School’s staff.

“She has already increased the visibility of her position of that office, both figuratively and literally, and she has made it a welcoming place for students,” Nicholson said. 

Having completed a student registration period with Nicholson, students are beginning to take notice of her friendliness and visibility in the Robins School.  “She’s already made a favorable impression on students and has gone through a very busy, very stressful registration period while taking care of the students pretty seamlessly,” according to Nicholson.

Nicholson also said the Robins School Dean’s Office is excited to have Thompson on board because of her extensive experience in Higher Education prior to joining the University in October of this year.  Thompson earned her bachelor’s degree at Randolph Macon College and a master’s in Higher Education Administration at Salisbury University, where she served for over a decade holding progressively responsible admissions positions leading to Director of Admissions.  She also taught as an adjunct faculty in the Communication Arts department at Salisbury University and instructed First Year Seminar courses for incoming freshman and transfer students. 

Thompson has already been able to transfer skills from her role at Salisbury to her work in the Robins School of Business.  According to her, interpersonal skills, communication tools and problem-solving methods have aided her in the first few weeks on the job. 

The culture of the University of Richmond and the Robins School of Business has made an impression on Thompson.  “Everywhere I go, there seems to be this overriding sense of quality and that things matter,” Thompson said.  “There’s creativity and integrity–it is apparent at all levels in the Robins School.”

This is evidenced by the fact that in Thompson's interview process, Nicholson and other staff members stressed that they did not want her to feel limited in the scope of her position or where she can take it.  Although it might seem too early to say, Thompson has found her place and her calling at the Robins School of Business.

“I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be,” she said.  “I feel like I can make a difference in the students’ lives and have a purpose.”