Student Life Staff

Meet the Student Life Staff

Michael Covert

The vice president for student life and dean of students serves as the senior student affairs officer for the university. This position provides supervision and oversight for the areas of Housing and Residence Life, the Campus Center and Event Services, Campus and Community Engagement, fraternity and sorority life, Student Wellbeing, the Campus Health Clinic, counseling, student success and retention, esports, and Dining Services.  The vice president responds to student, family and parent concerns regarding all facets of campus life and serves as the primary university contact for students and parents in the event of a campus emergency or student crisis. Dean Covert hosts “Donuts with the Dean” every Friday morning in the Campus Center to share puns and dad jokes over fresh donuts

Ryan Benjamin

The primary goal of the Campus Center is to be the living room of the Transy campus. The director of Campus Center and event services serves as the primary liaison for events within and around the Campus Center. This position works directly with faculty, staff and student organizations to ensure that the facility feels like home to our community. Finally, he is the liaison to a variety of campus partners, including: Bon Appétit catering services, dining services, facilities management (custodial, grounds and maintenance) and other departments that may be affected or involved in event services in and around the Campus Center. Outside of the office, Ryan loves watching sports (especially soccer), going hiking with his wife and two dogs, and playing board games.

Lydia Duncan

  • Administrative Assistant for Student Wellbeing/Health Educator
  • (859) 281-3682

The administrative assistant for the Student Wellbeing office supports University Health Services, the Counseling Center, and health education for students. Lydia is a 2021 graduate from Transylvania University, receiving a degree in Health & Exercise Sciences. She plans to pursue a Masters in Public Health with a focus on Nutrition. Outside of work, Lydia enjoys hanging out with her friends, family, and her cat Bunny.

Candy Rivera Evans

The assistant director of campus engagement is primarily responsible for our fraternity and sorority community, which makes up 42% of our student population, with four fraternities, four sororities and two new organizations looking to expand on campus. The fraternity and sorority community houses two governing bodies: the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils; and three honor societies: Order of Omega, Rho Lambda and Gamma Sigma Alpha. Programs for the community consist of diversity, equity and inclusion topics, leadership development, risk management, hazing prevention, alcohol awareness and philanthropic and community service events. Students who are interested in starting a new organization can work with the assistant director to gain official status as a new club. 

Lauren Graf

  • Administrative Assistant for Student Life/Advancement

The administrative assistant for Student Life/Advancement splits time between the office of Student Life and the office of Alumni and Development, allowing for a comprehensive view of university functions. Lauren graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2021 and she plans to pursue a Masters in higher education administration. Outside of work, Lauren enjoys extreme sports like skiing and scuba diving. She lives with her beloved cat, Covid, and spends her free time cooking and traveling.

Melissa Harris

The advanced practice nurse practitioner at the Campus Health Clinic serves as the medical provider for the university’s students, faculty and staff. Melissa performs appropriate health care assessments and manages the delivery and daily operations of clinical services. She also promotes wellness through individual health teaching and counseling related to a wide variety of health issues. Specifically, the nurse practitioner will diagnose and treat acute and chronic conditions, order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and other treatments, manage and coordinate care, make referrals when needed and focus on health promotion. The APRN maintains patient and student confidentiality of medical information and serves as a liaison to the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department. Melissa grew up in Eastern Kentucky and loves spending time outdoors. She enjoys daily walks in the woods by the creek with her husband and mini-Aussie pup.

Ashley Hill

  • Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Wellbeing
  • (859) 233-8464

The Student Wellbeing office encapsulates University Health Services, the Counseling Center and health education on campus to provide accessible, timely and confidential primary care while educating students about optimizing their physical and mental health by choosing healthy behaviors and lifestyles. Student Wellbeing provides a variety of health education and awareness programs throughout the year for students, faculty and staff. This includes alcohol and other drug education, sexual health education, Green Dot bystander accountability and numerous partnerships across campus. In addition to providing services offered by the clinic and Counseling Center, the associate dean of students serves as a core member of Transy’s behavior intervention committee. Outside of campus, Ashley enjoys spending time with her family and watching true crime documentaries.  Her favorite campus tradition is Pass on the Light, followed closely by Mugcakes and Murder.

Hannah Isa

  • Community Engagement Support Specialist (AmeriCorps Vista)
  • (859) 233-8896

As an AmeriCorps Vista member, the community engagement support specialist aims to instill a passion for service in the Transylvania community. She is responsible for assisting community based work-study students in finding a placement, working with students to find volunteer opportunities they are passionate about and organizing monthly service projects for community members to take part in. Additionally, the community engagement support specialist works closely with Transylvania’s community partners to determine their needs and properly serve them. Outside of work, Hannah enjoys playing tennis, spending time in nature and being the coolest aunt to her niece and nephew.

Tricia Isenstein, MA, LPCC

The campus counselor has two main areas of focus. The priority is providing direct clinical services to students with emotional, relationship, interpersonal, health and/or academic issues through assessment, intake, individual therapy and psychoeducation. Also, the campus counselor participates in outreach programming and trainings along with the director of student wellbeing for different groups on campus, including residence hall advisers, faculty members, first-year students, etc. As needed, the campus counselor serves as a resource to faculty and staff regarding mental health problems and participates on campus committees that function to improve areas of psychological and interpersonal health. Outside of her position at Transylvania, Tricia has a private practice, enjoys live music and gardening, and has too many dogs.

Keith Jones II

The director of housing and residence life is responsible for the overall development and management of the on-campus residential assignments of more than 600 students across six residential communities and four community houses. Keith is also responsible for the operational logistics associated with our on-campus housing operations, including supervision of all residence life staff, oversight of housing applications and assignments, dining assignments and billing, work orders management, and room changes/reassignments. The director also works in close collaboration with Accessibility Services, the Department of Public Safety, Facilities Management and countless others to make sure the needs and safety of students are being met. The director also provides leadership for the student conduct process and assists with adjudication of cases, training and oversight of the conduct boards and database management of student conduct cases. Outside of work, you can typically find Keith involved in a game of volleyball, whether playing or coaching. If he’s not there, he’s at home with his two pups, Attie and Lexi, and enjoying puzzles, board games or watching a movie or game at home with the family.

Corinne O’Bryan

The assistant director of student success coordinates new student orientation and assists with retention efforts for incoming and first-year students. This position oversees the co-curricular components of First Engagements to help integrate new students into the campus community and familiarize them with academic and social resources. She also supports campus retention initiatives that encourage students to persist to graduation. This role serves as a core member of the Campus, Awareness, Response and Evaluation (CARE) Team, Transy’s behavior intervention committee. Outside of work, Corinne enjoys hiking with her husband, Patrick, walking her dog, Skye, and checking out as many books as the library will allow.

Dylan Osborne

The Esports Coach provides opportunities for students with an interest in gaming to engage with the community. Dylan offers opportunities for students of varying skill levels to compete through the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) as well as participate in community events related to gaming. Dylan graduated from the University of Pikeville in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film and Media Arts. Outside of work, Dylan enjoys playing video games and hanging out with his two cats Phil and George.

Ann Pedersen

The campus counselor provides direct clinical services to students with emotional, relationship, interpersonal, health and/or academic issues through assessment, intake, individual therapy and psychoeducation. Also, the campus counselor participates in outreach programming and trainings along with the director of student wellbeing for different groups on campus, including residence hall advisers, faculty members, first-year students, etc. As needed, the campus counselor serves as a resource to faculty and staff regarding mental health problems and participates on campus committees that function to improve areas of psychological and interpersonal health.  When she’s not here, Ann enjoys watching movies (especially funny or scary), reading, and hanging with family and friends.

Jessie Rowe

The Student Success Coach provides support to students in all stages of their educational career. Jessie is a member of the CARE Team on campus, working to support students navigating difficult personal situations so they can continue to focus on their education. Through this role, she connects students to academic and co-curricular resources to help cultivate a positive and holistic university experience. Jessie graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology. She then graduated from Lincoln Memorial University in 2014 with a Master of Education degree in School Counseling. Outside of work, Jessie enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading mystery novels, and going to concerts. 

Kathy Susman, MA

  • Certified Psychologist with Autonomous Functioning; Coordinator of Counseling Services
  • (859) 233-8173

The coordinator of counseling services, provides direction and guidance in operations and processes of the counseling center. Kathy also provides direct clinical services to students who experience emotional, relationship, interpersonal, health and/or academic issues. She is a certified provider of BASICS and CASICS (interventions targeted at alcohol and cannabis use), and, as a Certified QPR Gatekeeper Instructor, Kathy provides suicide prevention education. She is passionate about jewelry — and has even worked in a jewelry store and can make many small jewelry repairs.

Michelle Thompson

The director of campus and community engagement is primarily responsible for overseeing all student clubs, organizations, fraternities and sororities, leadership workshops, intramurals and service volunteer teams. Campus and Community Engagement wants all students to feel connected to the university through one or more activities and plans and implements a wide array of student events and workshops throughout the year. These events include Welcome Week, monthly leadership workshops and intramural sports. Through our over 70 organizations on campus, students have the opportunity to develop lifetime social connections and build leadership skills to prepare them for their futures. Whatever your passion, we have a student organization for you. And if you don’t see what you are interested in, we will help you start your own group! Michelle grew up in Michigan and developed an affection for bridges when she experienced driving over the Mackinac Bridge.