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Meet the Advising Staff

Dr. Nelljean M. Rice
Dean, University College
Kearns Hall 102

Ph.D., University of South Carolina
M.F.A., University of Arkansas
M.A., Eastern Washington State
B.A., Beloit College

 Nelljean Rice

Nelljean M. Rice Ph.D. is the Dean of The University College, consisting of a three-part academic unit comprised of First-Year Academic Advising, the First-Year Experience, and the Learning Assistance Centers. She is also an Associate Professor in the Department of English, Journalism, and Communication. She has taught at Coastal since 1987. Her areas of specialty include Children's and Young Adult literature, British and American poetry, Creative Non- Fiction, Asian Literature in Translation, and First Year Writing classes. Additionally, Dr. Rice helped establish the minor in Women's and Gender Studies, of which she was the program director until 2005. Dr. Rice's monograph, A New Matrix for Modernism: A Study of the Lives and Poetry of Charlotte Mew and Anna Wickham was published by Routledge in 2003. Her poetry has been published in The Beloit Poetry Journal, Calyx, Negative Capability, the medieval discussion blog "In the Middle," and Cold Mountain Review. Dr. Rice lives in the historic district of Conway, SC where she enjoys gardening, walking and reading.

Fun Facts about Your Advisor

  • Dr. Rice’s favorite restaurant is Crady’s in Downtown Conway.
  • She is an avid reader and cannot pick just one favorite book, but she loves reading.
  • The best advice she received about college is talk to your professors.
  • The one piece of advice that Dr. Rice would like advisees to know is to learn how to manage your time.
  • The two things that set Coastal Carolina University apart from other places are the beautiful places and smiling faces that she says she stole from the South Carolina state tourism ad.
  • Her favorite music is anything by her son, Jesse Rice.

Paula Lippert
Administrative Assistant
University College

Kearns Hall 101
Phone: 843-349-2934
Fax: 843-349-2862

 Paula Lippert

Paula serves the office in a number of administrative as well as coordinating capacities. Paula has been an employee of the university since 1996. Before coming to the University Academic Center in August of 2008, Paula worked with the College of Business. Before joining the CCU staff, Paula lived in Maryland for 9 years. Originally from Pittsburgh, Paula is obviously an avid Steeler fan. She also enjoys the beach and making jewelry and scrapbooks.

Agatha O’Brien-Gayes
Director, Academic Advising
Kearns 213C

M.A., Webster University
B.A., Marymount College

 Agatha O’Brien-Gayes

Agatha O'Brien-Gayes is currently focusing on first-year student athletes and undeclared students at Coastal Carolina University. Mrs. O'Brien holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources Development and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. She began her career with Coastal as adjunct faculty in the Wall College of Business where she served for sixteen years. She transitioned to academic advising and first-year programs in 2006. Students at Coastal Carolina University have honored her with Advisor of the Year 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 and with the Student Athlete Faculty Member of the Year Award 2009-2010. She has published recently on academic advising in The Journal of College Orientation and Transition and at the International Technology, Education and Development Conference on integrating experiential learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Fun Facts about Your Advisor

  • Mrs. O’Brien’s favorite team is the New England Patriots.
  • Her two favorite restaurants are The Gulf Stream Café and Miyabi’s.
  • Her favorite book is Growing Up by Russel Baker.
  • Mrs. O’Brien believes that the best advice that she received about college was “a place cannot make you happy” because you are responsible for your own happiness.
  • She also believes that Coastal Carolina University’s students set it apart from other institutions. The number of opportunities for student involvement in leadership programs and the student body’s ability to initiate change.
  • Mrs. O’Brien’s favorite group of all time is Queen. However, her taste in music runs from classical to contemporary depending on her mood and what she is doing.

Michele Varga
First-Year Academic Advisor

Kearns Hall 213D

M.S., Binghamton University
B.S., Long Island University - Southampton

 Michele Varga

Ms. Varga joined the Coastal Carolina University community as our Bridge Program/Transition Coordinator. Although employed by Coastal Carolina University, her office at Horry-Georgetown Technical College is where she helps students bridge the gap between high school and Coastal Carolina University. She previously worked at Broome Community College in Binghamton, NY as an Academic Advisor. She has her Master's Degree in Social Science and a Bachelor's Degree in Psychobiology. She is passionate about helping students achieve their dreams, animals, quilting, and beading.

Fun Facts about Your Advisor

  • Ms. Varga’s favorite restaurant to go to in the area is the Melting Pot.
  • Her favorite book of all time is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • The best advice that she ever received relating to college was to keep all of her old papers, as she may be able to use them in the future.
  • Ms. Varga wishes students would go to their advisor to get their academic information.
  • She believes that two of the things that separate Coastal Carolina University from the pack is the amount and quality of academic assistance that is available to them and the determination of the University College help new students succeed.