Michael Dennin’s impact at University of California Irvine is a result of his vision of modernization in leading the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (OVPTL). This new division has sparked updated academic programs, compatible community partnerships, current curriculum and national outreach like never before, resulting in UCI’s number of recognitions for embracing student diversity and college access — helping first generation students and low-income students achieve the American Dream.

Through the OVPTL Dennin has helped to create the following:

The First-Gen Faculty initiative at UCI, now adopted by all UC schools

  • More than half of UCI’s current student body are first-generation students, and Dennin has led an innovative approach in supporting these first-generation college students. The initiative celebrates first-gen students who choose to pursue higher education while facing an array of social and cultural challenges.
  • The idea, a first of its kind, called First Generation Faculty initiative, encouraged instructors, students and staff on campus to identify themselves via t-shirts, buttons and other means as the first in their families to attend college. Dennin’s pilot Fall quarter program at UCI included #firstgen swag, workshops, mentorship, and strategic leveraging of social media platforms to spread awareness of the initiative to the community and other universities.
  • This program not only helps new students feel like they belong to and are supported by a larger community, but it also gives graduate-level first generation students, faculty, and staff an opportunity for recognition as the first in their family to attend college.

With remarkable success during the first two years, all UC schools have now chosen to implement the First-Gen Faculty Initiative for Fall quarter of 2017.

A partnership with the American Talent Initiative (ATI), joining sixty-eight of the nation’s most respected colleges and universities in an alliance to substantially expand the number of talented low and moderate-income students

  • Building on his momentum, Dennin helped UCI get involved with the American Talent Initiative (ATI), joining sixty-eight of the nation’s most respected colleges and universities in an alliance to substantially expand the number of talented low- and moderate-income students at America’s undergraduate institutions with the highest graduation rates. This growing alliance, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, brings together a diverse set of public and private institutions united in this common goal.

A brand new campus space called the Student Success Initiatives Center, helping students transition and maximize their college experiences

  • Dennin also initiated an academic support program dedicated to helping first-generation college, low-income, former foster youth, and/or disabled students succeed at UCI. He calls it the Student Success Initiatives Center, and it is positioned to help students successfully transition in order to maximize their college experiences so that they can thrive at UCI.

Multimedia video series meant to facilitate discussions among students and community leaders about current issues impacting the world

  • See Michael’s YouTube page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY–egso-52eXX1uWew6gAw

Development of expanded Campuswide Honors Program

  • Michael has lead the Division of Undergraduate Education on a campaign to provide stable, permanent funding for the enhancement of the Campuswide Honors Program (CHP) with a naming gift. Consistent with the university’s strategic plan “Pillar 2: First in Class,” UCI seeks to advance the Campuswide Honors Program to a level of national distinction, providing the university with a competitive advantage in recruiting top students.

Successfully raising $2,700,000 of funding towards research that will evaluate the effectiveness of introductory physics and chemistry courses, focusing on students who are underrepresented in science

  • The federal grant funds projects that aim to “improve academic achievement for all students and particularly for those whose education prospects are hindered by inadequate education services and conditions associated with poverty, race/ethnicity, limited English proficiency, disability, and family circumstance.” This new research grant will allow Michael and his team to study how to better innovate and restructure STEM classes at UCI to increase retention of students in STEM majors.

An NSF Funded, California Includes STEM Conference that brought educators from all over California together to share best practices in promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics degree pathways

  • The California STEM INCLUDES Conference, hosted by Dennin’s Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, shared best practices for promoting STEM inclusion and provides an infrastructure to further these practices and track the outcomes.
  • The five goals of the conference are to:
    • Increase California educator awareness of demographic gaps in STEM participation and the research on factors influencing such participation gaps
    • Engage participants in discussion of promising practices for increasing STEM inclusion
    • Broaden the impact of existing successful programs for STEM inclusion, through program modification and replication, scale-up, and increased collaboration
    • Create a mechanism for sustained discussion, sharing, and collaboration around STEM inclusion across California institutions
    • Innovate central repository and common standards for reporting on STEM inclusion and implementation program impact for the state.

Paying it Forward: The UCI First Generation Faculty Initiative