Keith Roots Named Director of U.Va.'s College Guide Program

September 12, 2007
Sept. 12, 2007 -- Keith D. Roots has been named director of the University of Virginia’s College Guide Program.

The program, created at U.Va. two years ago and now expanding nationwide, places recent college graduates in high school guidance offices to assist students who ordinarily would not choose to apply to college. Guides have also been placed in community colleges to encourage students to consider four-year colleges when they graduate.. Roots, a former admissions counselor and most recently director of corporate and foundation relations for U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences, worked closely with College Guide founder Nicole F. Hurd since the program’s inception.

“The College Guide Program has helped many students move onto paths they may not have taken otherwise,” said Roots. “We’re proud to serve as an additional resource to our partner institutions across the Commonwealth.

The College Guides work with students on applications to colleges, applications for financial aid and explaining the steps necessary to enter college. Guides have taken students on trips to colleges. Guides also encourage students in lower grades to consider college and what courses to take while still in high school.

“This is a valuable effort that will help not only this generation, but also generations to come.”

The College Guide Program has already opened doors for many high school students. After its first year in the program, Holston High School in Damascus, which had traditionally sent about 50 percent of its graduates on to some form of higher education, saw that number rise to nearly 85 percent.

In Virginia alone, College Guides worked with 15,000 students in the last academic year, Roots said.

The program is partially funded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and directed through U.Va’s Office of the Vice President and Provost. U.Va.’s Guide Program has also received $337,000 from Americorps State, which provides grants for direct service to address unmet community needs and educational programming. Several Guide positions are funded by foundations in the communities where they work. College Guides receive a $10,000 service stipend, a $10,000 housing allowance and $5,000 toward either future education or to pay for existing educational debts.

“The success of the program will be in the students coming to college who would not have ordinarily,” Hurd said. “We are trying to assist overworked guidance counselors in our partner high schools.”

The Cooke Foundation was so impressed with the program’s performance in its first year that it awarded $1 million apiece to 10 colleges and universities to create programs based upon U.Va.’s model. The grant recipients are Brown University, Franklin & Marshall College, Loyola College in Maryland, Pennsylvania State University, Tufts University in collaboration with the Massachusetts Campus Compact, the University of Alabama, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Utah.

"I am delighted that Keith will be representing U.Va. in our growing network of advising corps programs,” said Hurd, who is now director for Higher Education Initiatives at the National College Access Network, which is overseeing the growing program. “As our national expansion continues, Keith's experience and enthusiasm will help sustain a strong model program in the Commonwealth."

"Keith brings strong experience and is committed to access to higher education,” said J. Milton Adams, vice provost for academic programs.

Roots has a bachelor’s degree in government from U.Va., a master’s degree in educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, and has nearly completed a Ph.D. in higher education at the University of Georgia. At. U.Va., he has been the associate director of corporate and foundation relations, as well as assistant to the provost. He has also been assistant to the president at Longwood College (now University) in Farmville, Va., and district executive of the Boy Scouts of America in Charlottesville. Roots also served as an admissions officer at Longwood, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Georgia.

This fall, 24 Guides have started their yearlong jobs in 25 Virginia school districts and two community colleges, including four who are returning from the previous year. The 20 new Guides have been put through a six-week training course in financial aid, admissions, diversity issues and various forms of post-secondary education. Aside from their classroom training, they visited 21 Virginia colleges, meeting admission directors and touring campus facilities to familiarize themselves with an array of colleges.

For information, contact Keith Roots, director of U.Va.’s College Guides Program, at (434) 924-7612 or