Chris Pevey Harry is settling into his new role as assistant dean of precollege programs of Badger Precollege at the University of Wisconsin-Madison — and is inching closer to his goal of making the program available to every student in Wisconsin who’s interested in learning.
Pevey Harry, a Milwaukee native, started his position in the fall of 2019 — just six months before the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. The program, which Pevey Harry describes as a mini-university for students age 5-18, works with 1,200 to 1,500 students from around the state each summer.
The goal is to help students develop the academic and social skills to transition from K-12 to college; the courses, professors and environment reflect the undergraduate experience, according to the Badger Precollege website.
“I wanted to ensure that I had an impact on students who shared my thinking and my lived experience to support young students of color who are genuinely overlooked and underserved,” he told Madison365. “So that’s really why I went into education.”
His degree in community education, masters in education policy and his experience working abroad in London and Italy with college students has helped him understand the importance of being a global citizen but also reinforced his belief that curriculums need to resonate with communities.
Since he started at UW-Madison, Pevey Harry has launched new programs, increased scholarship opportunities and created a holistic admissions approach.
“We’re not just looking at the grades or those who excel academically, but we’re looking at students to bring their own unique interests and passions,” Pevey Harry told Madison365.
He and his team of five developed a summer program called Badger Summer Scholars for high school students that will launch this summer.
“The intention was that this program be open and accessible to any student who’s interested in learning. What that means is developing sort of diversity and inclusion, learning objectives so that we can ensure that we’re inviting students from all backgrounds and social-economic levels. Also, those who have diverse learning needs,” Pevey Harry said.
He has partnered with other programs on campus to develop courses such as the “Write On! Words Have Power!” that explores the intersectionality between writing and social justice to help students think about the role they can have as activists and “Symphony and Black,” which is a survey of African-American composers and their music.
This upcoming year, all classes will be done online but Pevey Harry said the team has been working to ensure it is still an immersive college experience.
“One thing that was really important to us is to ensure that we were still building our programs and supporting students the best way that we could given the situation at hand,” Pevey Harry said.