UM Hires Vice Provost for Student Success

January 03, 2019

Sarah SwagerMISSOULA – After a national search, the University of Montana has hired Dr. Sarah Swager to become its new vice provost for student success. She will begin her new duties Feb. 1.

This position oversees essential areas in Student Affairs and student success, including the Office for Student Success – with its advising, tutoring and financial education – as well as sectors such as American Indian Student Services, veteran services, UM Dining, UM Housing, Curry Health Center and Campus Recreation, among others.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Dr. Swager to campus,” said Jon Harbor, UM executive vice president and provost. “She has a great blend of experience and talents that will enhance our efforts to provide truly transformative experiences for students through an integrated approach to student success programs and services. Her past leadership includes significant accomplishments in innovative ways to enhance student success and retention.”

A Montana native from Sheridan, Swager brings over 35 years of experience as a student affairs professional, having served as chief student affairs officer at Coker College, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (now Randolph College) and Central Washington University. She also has held interim leadership assignments at Carlow University and St. Norbert College through the Registry for College and University Presidents, assisting those institutions in framing new strategic and organizational approaches to serving students.

Swager holds an undergraduate degree in studio art from Colby College, a master’s degree in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Michigan.

Her dissertation research focused on the impact of task and interpersonal elements between faculty and student partners in an undergraduate research program. That research continues to inspire her research and practice in critical ways, including data-informed retention strategies, change management, strategic planning and student success programs.

She was instrumental in working collaboratively with staff and faculty at Central Washington University to create environmental conditions and targeted strategies that significantly helped improve retention at CWU.

“I’m excited to work with UM’s staff and faculty to bring new student success and student retention initiatives to the University of Montana,” Swager said.

In her free time, Swager enjoys spending time in the natural beauty of Montana, is an accomplished knitter and quilter and continues to work as an amateur artist in multimedia and oils.


Contact: Jon Harbor, UM executive vice president and provost, 406-243-4689,