Dr. Keith Shaw, Princeton’s Director of Transfer, Veteran, and Non-Traditional Student Programs, was recognized in December with the Transfer Champion Rising Star Award by the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS).
NISTS annually recognizes transfer advocates who are engaged in the promotion of policies and practices intended to help transfer students.
The Rising Star Award honors individuals who have worked diligently to create significant change and raise awareness about the transfer experience but are relatively new to their transfer-related roles. Awardees have typically acted in their positions for three to five years. Shaw has served as director of the transfer program since its founding in 2017.
Honorees are recognized for designing new programs or strengthening existing programs to enhance the experiences of transfer students. “Transfer Champions span a wide range of roles, responsibilities, and functional units,” according to the NISTS website.
Rising Stars employ “best practices and theoretical frameworks to design, implement, and assess their efforts and use resulting data to guide future work,” according to the award’s website. They commit to cooperative and collaborative practices to educate the larger community about the transfer student population and are “not afraid to challenge the status quo.”
Launched in 2017, Princeton’s transfer program sought to put forth policies that would allow for the admission of transfer students to Princeton, as “we hadn’t done so since about 1990,” Shaw said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian. In 2016, before the transfer program was launched, Princeton had “exactly one student veteran on campus, and that was something we wanted to rectify,” he added.
The transfer program was recreated as an access and inclusion initiative, according to Shaw.
“We were trying to figure out — looking around campus — what kind of students weren’t here, and how we could build a program that would bring them in,“ Shaw said. “[We concentrated] on first-generation, low-income students and community college students who, by definition, couldn’t come unless there was a transfer program.“
Shaw has advocated throughout his time at the University for policies and initiatives aimed at improving the experience of transfer students at Princeton. For example, he pushed for the development of a more robust residential life experience for transfer students who may be significantly older and/or have spouses or children and who have struggled in the past to handle housing accommodations.
Collaborating with the administration, Shaw also encouraged the University to expand its traditional residency requirement and offer alternative residential experiences, including on-campus apartments.
“The housing situation had to work not only for them to be in a place that was comfortable, accommodating their needs, and would allow them to be the best scholars they could be, but also work for their family members,” he told the ‘Prince.’
In addition to his efforts to increase the accessibility of alternative housing options, Shaw has served in numerous other roles aimed at providing greater resources for transfer students and ensuring their integration within the Princeton community.
Shaw acts as the advisor for the Princeton Transfer Association, teaches a Writing Seminar — titled “Everyone’s an Expert” — designed for transfer students, and has led seminars and writing workshops as a part of the Warrior-Scholar Project, a non-profit dedicated to helping recently discharged and enlisted veterans pursue higher education.
“I’m really grateful to the students and the Princeton Transfer Association, and to Xander de los Reyes ’24 and Alejandro Garcia ’22 who nominated me for it,” Shaw said of his recognition. “On the other hand, I also feel a little reluctant because I don’t think it’s fair to take individual credit for something that was very much a group project. The transfer program is successful because of a lot of people’s efforts,” he said, referencing campus partnerships between the Princeton Transfer Association and the Office of the Dean of the College, Financial Aid, Admission, Housing, Dining, and the Writing Program.
Garcia, who serves as the president of the Princeton Transfer Association, commended Shaw further.
“Dr. Shaw’s recognition as one of five recipients of the highly competitive award is emblematic of his unparalleled commitment to ensuring the transfer program’s continued growth since its relaunch four years ago and the program’s standing as one of the best in the nation,” Garcia told the ‘Prince.’ “We are ecstatic about this award because it is representative of Dr. Shaw’s ability to surpass any expectations and set a new bar of excellence as the program's director.”
Winners of the Transfer Champion awards will be celebrated in in-person as well as virtual NISTS conference events.
Alexa Marsh is a staff news writer for the ‘Prince’. She can be reached at email@example.com.