New vice provost for student life takes holistic approach to student success
Lamar Hylton’s professional career has focused on students and helping them succeed, and he’s eager to continue that passion as Indiana University Bloomington’s new vice provost for student life.
But that wasn’t his original plan.
Hylton earned an undergraduate degree in vocal music performance and intended to be an opera singer. When he went to graduate school at Ohio University, though, Hylton’s master’s program placed him in the College of Fine Arts, where he did recruitment and retention work for underrepresented students.
“That’s really where I fell in love with working with college students and supporting their efforts and their journey, many of which took very similar paths as I in terms of being students of color or first generation,” Hylton said. “I became very passionate about the idea of helping young people take the college path.
“My supervisor at the time was the one who told me I could do this as a career. From that moment, I’ve never looked back.”
Hylton previously worked at Kent State University, where he was senior vice president for student affairs. At IU Bloomington, he’ll lead the Office of Student Life, a new organizational structure created to align with the IU Bloomington 2030 strategic plan. The office will focus on improving the experience for all students in three key areas: care and advocacy, health and well-being, and involvement and belonging.
Hylton said he was impressed by the university’s commitment to having a positive impact on the student experience. He was drawn to the role because IU integrates all parts of the student experience, both inside and outside the classroom, to help students achieve their goals.
IU also appealed to him as a flagship institution.
“I think there is power in public institutions, so the opportunity to be a leading voice in shaping this experience with students at a public research institution that is well known and has a history and legacy of quality research and service was very appealing,” Hylton said.
Success for students goes beyond the traditional view of earning a degree, and it is personal to each student, Hylton said. Students should be able to define what success means to them, and higher education institutions should provide the experiences, resources and environment to help them achieve their goals.
It’s important that a holistic approach be used with students, Hylton said, because Indiana University has the opportunity to touch lives and change futures.
“So, we’re really examining how the Office of Student Life can deepen our practices to support students and how we are able to provide a roadmap for students,” he said.
Student success and opportunity is one of three pillars of the IU Bloomington 2030 strategic plan. Hylton said that to be successful with that pillar, the student voice must be included in decision making. In his interactions with students on campus so far, Hylton said it’s evident they love IU and want to be heard.
“There is a deep love and affinity for the institution they attend, and Hoosiers have high expectations of what happens here and expect that they have engagement with key leaders, key opportunities and key resources to help shape their experience,” Hylton said.
Should students, staff or faculty see Hylton around campus — and he said they’re likely to see him with his wife and two daughters —he said they should strike up a conversation.
“Don’t hesitate to say hello; I will say hello back. I’m also a big social media guy,” Hylton said. “I love Instagram and X, as Twitter is now called. I also love engaging our students and the broader community in those forums as well and utilizing those tools for good.”
And where might you see Hylton around campus? The Indiana Memorial Union, where his office is located. Athletic events, because he’s a sports fan. Walking around campus to see the leaves change colors, because fall is his favorite season. Also at some local restaurants and signature IU events.
“I am a foodie, and with a number of international restaurants that are in Bloomington, I am excited to eat my way through the city,” Hylton said. “I’m also looking forward to some of the more major experiences that happen at IU, including homecoming and Little 500. All of those I am looking forward to taking in for the first time.”
Kirk Johannesen is a communications consultant in the Office of the Vice President of Communications and Marketing.