Sonia Rucker, assistant to the president for Equity and Diversity and Dean of Students at Southeast Missouri State University, has been appointed vice president for equity, access, and behavioral health. The appointment became effective Sept. 1. In this role, Rucker will have oversight of the new Division of Equity, Access and Behavioral Health at Southeast and continue in her role as Dean of Students.
The Division of Equity, Access and Behavioral Health will bring together under one umbrella a number of offices, including the Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility; Student Conduct; the LGBTQ+ Resource Center; Title IX enforcement of the sexual harassment policy and federal Equal Opportunity law compliance; enforcement of the University’s Non-Discrimination/Affirmative Action policies, procedures and practices and compliance with state and federal civil rights laws; and the Academic Support Centers, comprised of; TRIO Programs, (The McNair Scholars Programs and Student Support Services) Educational Access Programs; and the Learning Assistance Programs.
Counseling and Disability Services, renamed the Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility, will remain under the Division of Equity, Access, and Behavioral Health. The Center’s new name better reflects its efforts to offer more integrated services for an increasingly diverse community and the need to be more flexible and inclusive in how those services will be delivered. The Center will continue to offer traditional counseling and other mental health services face to face and via Telehealth options, along with substance use awareness, victim advocacy and violence prevention as well as accessibility coordination and services for students with disabilities. Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University, said he expects the new Division of Equity, Access and Behavioral Health to strengthen the University’s diversity education efforts and bolster the cultural competence of the University community.
Trent Ball, assistant vice president for academic diversity and outreach at Southeast Missouri State University, has been appointed associate vice president for equity and access.
In taking on his new role, Ball will provide additional leadership to the new Division of Equity, Access, and Behavioral Health. He also will assist in providing diversity training and outreach, and be responsible for working with academic and administrative units across the University to develop and implement initiatives that focus on the recruitment and retention of minority faculty and staff, as well as underrepresented student populations. He will also continue to supervise the University’s TRIO Programs (The McNair Scholars Program and Student Support Services), Educational Access Programs and the Learning Assistance Programs.
The Division will provide leadership to the Equity and Inclusion Committee to develop and implement a multi-year training program for University leaders, strengthen mentoring programs, establish workshops dedicated to diversity and cultural inclusion, and enhance engagement with community partners. The Division’s focus, with input from the Equity and Inclusion Committee, will also be on facilitating opportunities and coordinating efforts for Southeast’s administrative units and academic colleges to continue conversations, and initiate new ones if necessary, that identify specific actions and reaffirm the University’s commitment to being an increasingly diverse and inclusive community.