Institute Staff: Meet the Team

The Institute is led by Executive Director Dr. Christine La Cola. As executive director, Dr. La Cola serves as a member of the president’s senior team and oversees the Institute’s four centers: the Center for Applied Learning, the Center for Academic and Professional Advising, the Center for Leadership, and the Center for Career Coaching and Professional Development.

Dr. La Cola joins Columbia College with over twenty years experience in higher education and business with expertise in organizational management and program and curricular design. Most recently, Dr. La Cola served as assistant dean and director of the Graduate Division at the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. Dr. La Cola graduated cum laude with a B.A. in economics and business administration from Kalamazoo College. She earned an M.B.A. from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and a doctorate in Higher Education Management from The Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia.
Jen Hunsicker is the director of the Center for Applied Learning, focused on experiential learning such as internships, job shadowing, service learning and research. Upon receiving a Master Degree in Human Resources from the University of South Carolina, Jen was the Program Manager at the Moore School of Business and oversaw student service functions of the acclaimed International MBA program, Accelerated MBA program, Executive and Global MBA programs as well as international exchange partnerships.


Katherine Swartz is the director of the Center for Leadership (formerly The Leadership Institute) overseeing professional development and training for students, alumnae and executive women. Swartz also oversees the College’s leadership certificate program as well as community outreach programs for middle and high school girls. Swartz is well known for her work as vice president of leadership development and community involvement for the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and executive director of Columbia Opportunity Resource. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, Swartz earned a B.A. in communications. She is also a graduate of the Non-Profit Leadership Institute at Francis Marion University and the Diversity Leaders Initiative of the Riley Institute at Furman University.

Chante Clarkson is the director of the Center for Academic and Professional Advising. In this role, Clarkson coordinates personal advising teams of faculty, a career coach, business leaders and alumnae for every student. Clarkson joins Columbia College after successfully directing academic advising and enrollment management at The University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business. Clarkson earned a B.S. in psychology from Southern University and an M.S. in industrial and organizational psychology from Emporia State University. Her expertise includes mentoring, recruiting, financial aid, enrollment management as well as academic advising. Her outstanding work with students earned her the “Outstanding 2010 Mentor Award” at the University of Tulsa.