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Home is where the heart is

Tom Casey, Ecampus student success counselor

Rom Casey partially sits on a table in the Oregon State University Valley Library with his hands folded in his lap.

As an OSU Ecampus student success counselor, Tom Casey says he’s often asked about strategies to improve academic performance, including time management, reading skills, notetaking skills and developing a study plan. He recommends students organize their study space, technology, academics and time in order to reach their goals.

By Heather Doherty  
October 17, 2016

For Tom Casey, “home” has been all over the country for the past 20+ years. Although he’s enjoyed his various homes, Tom’s “real home,” he says, is Oregon State University.

“Growing up in the shadows of Oregon State, this is a special place for me and holds a lot of memories,” he says. “As a kid, I was a ball boy when Joe Avezzano was the head football coach, I went to school here and later served as a defensive assistant football coach under Jerry Pettibone. I would not have been able to have the opportunities I have had if it weren’t for Oregon State and the relationships that were developed here.”

A former football coach, Tom has worked in the student success business for more than two decades at various colleges and universities across the U.S., helping students on and off the field.

He’s served as the defensive coordinator at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, Augustana College in Illinois, Western Illinois University, Tyler Junior College in Texas, Feather River Junior College in California and the U.S. Military Academy in New York.

But for Tom, his coaching career was much more than setting up a play and preparing his team to get the big W each game. It was about working with student-athletes in their academic, social and athletic development.

Tom coaches for Western Illinois University in a game against the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He wears a purple athletic jacket and white hat and a large headset.

Prior to becoming an OSU Ecampus student success counselor, Tom Casey served as a defensive coordinator at various colleges and universities. Pictured above is Tom coaching for Western Illinois University in a game against the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“One of the most gratifying experiences you can have is seeing a student-athlete enter college and working with them as they grow and develop over their collegiate career,” he says. “I enjoy celebrating their successes on and off the field. I have former players who are now succeeding in the business world, serving in the Senate, having families of their own, etc. The connections and relationships you develop are one of great benefits of coaching.”

Working in small colleges provided Tom the opportunity to wear many hats, including serving as the director of TRiO/Student Support Services at Feather River College, where he also rewrote a grant to continue funding, and served as the college’s webmaster.

Now, he’s channeling his inner coach in his new role as an Oregon State Ecampus student success counselor.

“It’s a new team with new players, but my focus on student success hasn’t changed,” he says.

“As I was looking to transition out of coaching, I knew two things: I knew I wanted to return to Oregon, specifically Corvallis, and I wanted to work with college students in creating an environment that leads to success.”

“I am excited to continue to work with students in helping them overcome challenges and obstacles as they pursue their degree, and celebrating their successes along the way.”

Tom’s main focus is current Ecampus students in the University Exploratory Studies Program and those from the College of Liberal Arts who are majoring in anthropology, history, liberal studies, world languages, and women, gender and sexuality studies.

“Working with student-athletes and online adult learners are similar in a few ways: They both have a lot on their plate, they are pressed for time and they need guidance and a supporting environment,” he says. “It also comes down to developing relationships with the ones you serve. The relationship is key in developing trust and openness that allows me to successfully work with students.”

Tom says he’s often asked about strategies to improve academic performance, including time management, reading skills, notetaking skills and developing a study plan. He recommends students organize their study space, technology, academics and time in order to reach their goals.

“I am excited to continue to work with students in helping them overcome challenges and obstacles as they pursue their degree, and celebrating their successes along the way,” he says.

In addition to student success appointments, Tom also manages the Ecampus Student Success Blog, a resource that provides timely tips and insights into online learning.

Tom earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in college student services administration – both from Oregon State.

Now that he’s back home, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, and reconnecting to his roots.

“It’s been great to spend more time with my family and my girls who both live in Oregon,” he says. “One of the neatest experiences thus far is spending time with my childhood friends and their families. It can almost be surreal at times.”

Read more about the OSU Ecampus student success counselors and their work – and meet the rest of the team, including Theresa Harper, Bethany Ulman and Amy Riley.

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