Dr. Samantha Jane Armstrong Ash, Ph.D.
AVP Student Life/Dean of Students, Adjunct Faculty for Organizational Leadership, She/her/hers
- B.A. in Business Management – Idaho State University, 2004
- B.A. in Secondary Education (History) – Idaho State University, 2004
- M.Ed. in Student Affairs Administration – Western Washington University, 2006
- Ph.D. in Higher Education & Leadership – Washington State University, 2013
I am fortunate to serve in my "day job" as the associate vice president for student life and dean of students at Eastern Washington University. Working with students to navigate the institution and ensure that they have the support they need to achieve their educational goals is my favorite way to spend a day. In my fifteenth year as a student affairs administrator and tenth year at Eastern Washington University, I truly get to do what I love. I realized early on in my undergraduate career that being on a college campus and working with college students was where I was meant to be.
My education and career have been focused on student leadership development, student success and student support. In my work, I have experienced firsthand how blending the curricular and co-curricular enhances the cognitive and affective development of students. The energy I get from working with students as a faculty member, actively advising, teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students cannot be matched! Shout out to all the students and colleagues I have continued to learn and grow from at Washington State University, Gonzaga University and Eastern Washington University (GO EAGS!)—you are the real MVPs of my career.
In which online degree program do you teach?
In what ways do you connect with online students?
I LOVE how technology allows us to connect and am always open to learning about new platforms. Of course, after 2020-21, I am a Zoom power-user like most of the world. However, I am happy to connect with students in ways that work for them, including Google Hangout, Skype, Zoom, Slack, email, phone and, if I need to, I will master communication through carrier pigeons. That said, I will primarily use Canvas communication tools, e-mail, Zoom and phone. I encourage students to reach out early and often when they need support. You have my contact information, please use it.
What do you want your students to take away from class?
Beyond feeling like we met the learning outcomes for the course, I hope that students walk away with three things: a desire to keep learning (good leaders are life-long learners), an ability to thoughtfully apply the material to their current role(s)/journey and an increased sense of a community of practice when it comes to leadership.
What is the value of an advanced degree in today’s work environment?
Often individuals pursue advanced degrees to increase their job satisfaction and/or salary. While these are often positive outcomes of obtaining an advanced degree, I believe the real value of an advanced degree is in the clear investment one is making in lifelong learning and the development of
What advice would you give to your online students?
Build your community of practice! You have the opportunity to develop connections and relationships with people that can support you in your lifelong journey as a leader. In your courses, be mindful that this program is online, and it is key to carefully review your work before you post something for your colleagues. Engage respectfully and take a minute to consider that we are unable to read your body language or hear your tone of voice. The goal in many of your course activities will be to spur more dialogue, so think about how you can help do this in what you submit. Lastly, be open to new pathways for understanding the material. BONUS ADVICE FROM THE PARTNER OF AN ACADEMIC: I passed this one by my partner and he said, "Make sure to stay hydrated." Solid piece of advice!
Why did you start teaching?
I began teaching because of my love for helping students make connections between course materials and their lived experiences. I live for the light-bulb moments—inside and outside the classroom. I continue to teach because I believe in the dance between educators and students, one where we learn from one another and create new pathways for knowledge to take hold and make a difference in the world.
What is the one book you think everyone should read?
Just one? Yikes. “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott is a go-to for me that I regularly revisit.
What do you do when you need a laugh?
TWO WORDS: ROY KENT. If you have not watched “Ted Lasso,” it is the show we needed to sustain us in 2020 and 2021.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that your students may not know.
I began my full-time career working in fraternity and sorority life—part leadership development, part conduct, part alumni relations, part coach/mentor, part fish and game (yes, there was an alligator experience). This foundation instilled in me the desire to continue to grow as a leader and communicator. It was a role where I always learned something new, experienced navigating politics and money, and realized how important core values are to guiding us and ensuring that we thrive in all we do.