Contact Us

For questions about CLASS tutoring, coaching, and other academic support programs:
CLASS@syr.edu or 315.443.2005

For questions about academic integrity:
AIO@syr.edu or 315.443.5412

Our Staff

Margaret L. Usdansky, Ph.D.   |   Director
Pronouns: she/her/hers
mlusdans@syr.edu

Margaret Usdansky is the founding director of CLASS, which opened in 2017, and a Research Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science in Falk College. A sociologist and demographer, Dr. Usdansky is interested in the sometimes surprising cognitive science research on how human learning does—and does not—work. She studies how academic support programs can help students use research-based study strategies to meet their academic goals, including in subject areas they’ve previously found challenging. Dr. Usdansky also teaches in the Honors program. She enjoys running, swimming, sailing, yoga, reading, cooking and honing her math and Spanish skills.


George Athanas   |   Associate Director
Pronouns: he/him/his
gathanas@syr.edu

George Athanas is the associate director of CLASS. He recently joined the CLASS staff after 18 years at Syracuse University within the division of Student Affairs. While his experiences in Residence Life and at the Center for International Services primarily focused on the co-curricular experience of students, he is excited to use these perspectives to inform his current role overseeing the staff responsible for CLASS academic programming and academic expectations. Originally from New England, he enjoys all that autumn brings — sweatshirt weather, apple picking, cider, and fall foliage to name just a few. In addition, he likes trying new ethnic cuisine, baking, quilting, and attending theater productions.


Kate Bussell, M.S.   Assistant Director of Academic Expectations
Pronouns: she/her/hers
kabussel@syr.edu

Kate Bussell is the Assistant Director of Academic Expectations for CLASS. She earned an M.S. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina and a B.S.Ed. in Deaf Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Kate was previously the Director of Student Success at Newman University in Wichita, KS. In her role, she is specifically focused on academic integrity, student support, and the college student learning process. Kate is an avid reader and can always be found in a library or coffee shop. Outside of work, Kate enjoys being outside with her partner and dogs, spending time on the water, and thrifting.


Richard Granato Portrait-decorative imageRich Granato, M.S.   |   Functional Business Analyst
Pronouns: he/him/his
rgranato@syr.edu

Rich Granato is a Functional Business Analyst for CLASS. He graduated from Le Moyne College in 2017 with a B.A. in Mathematics, with a concentration in Actuarial Science, and graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Applied Data Science in 2023. Before coming to SU, Rich was a CRLA certified tutor at Cayuga Community College (CCC), where he tutored college students in a wide variety of math courses. In addition to his time dedicated to helping others, Rich has also spent a great deal of time participating in several different teams and clubs. Rich was captain of the varsity tennis team at his high school, President of Tutor Club at CCC, and an active participant in Math Club events at Le Moyne. Outside the world of academics, Rich enjoys watching sports, playing music and spending time with his fiancée, Chrissy.


Dave Peterson   |   Senior Academic Learning Specialist
Pronouns: he/him/his
dapete01@syr.edu

Dave Peterson is a Senior Academic Learning Specialist with CLASS. Dave earned a B.A. in Social Justice from Empire State College. Dave was previously with the Arthur O. Eve Higher Educational Opportunity Program here at SU as an Academic Counselor. Working with students and seeing their overall growth is a passion that he never takes for granted. Prior to joining the SU community, Dave worked as a College Coordinator for the Philadelphia Education Fund preparing high school students for college. When not working, he enjoys his love of sports, fishing, video games, remote controlled cars, and drones.


Saedra Blow    |   Academic Learning Specialist
Pronouns: they/she
mcblow@syr.edu

Saedra Blow is an Academic Learning Specialist for CLASS. They earned their B.A. in English from Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS). Prior to their work at SU, Saedra was a writing tutor for several years at HWS’s Center for Teaching and Learning and through the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). Their experience as a writing tutor inspired them to work for CLASS, where they continue helping students succeed in higher education. They are passionate about equity in education and student well-being, especially as they relate to social justice. When they are away from the office, they can be found writing poetry and playing Pokemon GO.


Ashley Jimenez    |   Program Support Coordinator
Pronouns: she/her/hers
asjimene@syr.edu

Ashley Jimenez is the Program Support Coordinator for CLASS. Ashley earned a B.S. in Accounting and Business Management from Syracuse University in 2020. Prior to CLASS, she worked as an Accounting Analyst in the Comptroller’s Office at Syracuse University. During her time as an undergrad student, Ashley was involved in Residence Life as a Resident Advisor, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, and tutored at the North Side Learning Center (NSLC) after-school program for Syracuse’s refugee and immigrant community. In terms of work, Ashley enjoys most working hands-on with students & colleagues in a fast-paced environment. She prides herself on helping those in her community continuously learn and grow. It is what makes work worthwhile for her. Outside of work, Ashley holds personal passions for DEI work, reading, traveling, animals, and family.