On Dec. 13, 2019, Dr. Mona Hicks, the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students for the Division of Student Development at that time, ended her successful career at SLU. Dr. Kent Porterfield, the Vice President at the time, also stepped down soon after. Their leave left empty spaces in the division, and the university has since undertaken a search to fill those seats. While the search for an associate and permanent vice president will continue, Dr. Debra Rudder Lohe has taken on the role of serving as the Interim Vice President for the Division of Student Development.
Lohe stepped into her new role with a considerable amount of experience. In her almost 25 years of serving higher education, more than 10 of those have been at SLU. While bringing along the skills and experience she’s attained from years in the field, she’ll also have the support and aid of the Interim Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, Donna Bess Myers. “Being able to serve as that support to Dr. Debie and moving things along—that’s what we’re here for.” stated Myers, when speaking of her and other staff members support for Lohe.
“The full set of things that are really focused on students, that are not academic, that are not faculty in classrooms, all of that is under the umbrella of student development,” said Lohe about the function of the division.
While many were concerned about the changes that a new temporary leadership may bring to the division, Lohe described her and Myers’ role as only being to progress things that are currently going on in the division. “I think the way that [Myers] and I think about the interim role is we’re keeping things going, keeping the ships in the water, [and] allowing things that were already in process to continue to move forward,” said Lohe.
The Division for Student Development is of the utmost importance to many students and staff, and both Lohe and Myers plan on keeping it that way. With pressing issues like student mental health and preparation for next year’s incoming class, the Division for Student Development aims to ensure that staff members feel supported and have all the resources they need to help students here at SLU.
For the Division of Student Development, student’s mental health is at the forefront. “[Student mental health and wellness], that continues to be on the minds of folks in student development, and I think to the extent we can continue to be good voices for what are the kinds of programs we need, what are the resources we need, and how do we empower you to be helpful to each other, so I think student wellness is a big, top of the list,” said Lohe.
Although Lohe is only serving as the Vice President for Student Development temporarily, she is here to serve nonetheless with the aid of Myers. “Anything for students, that’s the cool thing about our gigs, anything for students.”, said Myers, reflecting on her and Lohe’s positions.