Veteran leader Travis T. Apgar named CWRU’s next VP for student affairs

Headshot of Case Western Reserve's new VP for Student Affairs Travis Apgar
Travis T. Apgar. Photo courtesy of RPI.

President Eric W. Kaler and Interim Provost Joy K. Ward today announced the appointment of Travis T. Apgar as the university’s next vice president for student affairs, effective July 1.

“Travis understands the exceptional opportunities students have at a leading university,” President Kaler said, “and knows how to provide the support and structures needed for them to grow and excel throughout their time on campus. We look forward to welcoming him this summer.”

Now an associate vice president and dean of students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Apgar will join Case Western Reserve after 25 years of increasing responsibilities for students at Rensselaer, Cornell University and the State University of New York at Albany.

“Travis brings a valuable breadth of experiences to this role,” Ward said, “as well as a clear commitment to collaborating across units to ensure that students receive the support and guidance they need to thrive.”

A lifelong resident of New York, Apgar said he was not looking for a new role. But after being contacted about the opportunity and participating in early conversations with Case Western Reserve leaders, his interest quickly grew.

“I am excited to join and serve the Case Western Reserve University community,” Apgar said. “It is a world-class university which is home to scholarly work and research with impact around the globe; I am honored to have this opportunity to shape the future of the CWRU student experience.”      

In addition, he finds the recent inclusion of student advising into the division particularly appealing.

“Any time you can create opportunities for faculty and staff to collaborate on how we can best serve students from entrance to graduation,” he said, “it is going to lead to a better experience for students.”

A triple alumnus of SUNY-Albany, Apgar first worked as a residence hall director at his alma mater—while also pursuing a master’s degree in educational psychology and statistics. Engaging with students proved so rewarding that he decided to focus specifically on student affairs, even enrolling in a second master’s degree program, this one in educational administration.

“I fell in love with the work,” he said of the residence hall experience. “I became a big believer in student affairs.”

In the ensuing years, Apgar assumed leadership roles in residence life and then, at Rensselaer, in Greek Life and judicial affairs. During this time, he chaired a campuswide safety committee that the president appointed, and co-led an interdisciplinary faculty-staff initiative to increase class affinity and identify students needing additional support. Over a five-year period, Rensselaer’s rates for undergraduate retention and persistence-to-graduation climbed six percentage points.

Apgar then went on to spend a decade at Cornell University, where he led the office responsible for supporting 64 fraternities and sororities—as well as students who chose to live elsewhere off campus. In the ensuing decade, the university’s president appointed him to serve on the National College Health Improvement Project-Learning Collaborative and the Recruitment, Acceptance, Retention and Education Task Force. He also chaired the President’s Council on Hazing Prevention, among other campus contributions.

“I didn’t say ‘no’ too much,” Apgar said of his institution-wide service. “I was always trying to learn and gain experience in any way I could.”

In fact, he went on to present and write widely about hazing on college campuses, and in 2019 joined the board of directors for the Hazing Prevention Network, a national nonprofit organization. As of this year, 44 states have adopted anti-hazing laws.

“If I can be of help, I will always volunteer,” Apgar said, emphasizing the nationwide efforts among families, campus leaders and public officials to raise awareness. “A lot has been accomplished.”

Six years ago, Apgar returned to Rensselaer, this time to lead a range of student experience programs—among them student government and student activities, residential and Greek life and student health and wellness. In 2021, his portfolio expanded to include such administrative responsibilities as division-wide financial planning and management, staff recruitment and retention and leadership development.

“Travis Apgar has been an invaluable member of the Rensselaer Student Life team for over a decade,” said Vice President of Student Life Peter Konwerski. “We are incredibly thankful for his service to RPI and to our student community, where he worked tirelessly to care for and support students and their families.”