Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Sonia Rucker named new dean of students

Friday, October 6, 2017

Dr. Carlos Vargas revealed a shift in leadership roles during Thursday during his State of the University.

Sonia Rucker officially become the Dean of Students on Oct. 1 and Vargas announced this position change during his address on Oct. 5.

Sonia R. Rucker.
University photo.

I am really excited about that because I think is going to really fall well on somebody who has the skills really necessary to perform that function effectively, Vargas said.

Rucker previously held the role of Director of Institutional Equity and Diversity. She will serve as the assistant to the president for Equity and Diversity as well as Dean of Student. Rucker said she plans to take some time to get used her new duties.

I just plan to listen, learn figure out what works for me, Rucker said. I dont plan to make any huge changes I think its important to watch, listen and learn at this point and its all about make sure the students are being served in the best way possible.

Rucker said former Dean of Students Deborah Below is helping her transition into her new role.

We had a lot of meetings, discussions, Rucker said. We been trying to make sure its a seamless process so people can continue to work with the students that are involved in the Dean of Students office currently. Well continue to do that over the next few months. I could learn a lot from Dr. Below.

Below held the position of both Dean of Students and Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success for five years. She will continue in the latter role.

There simply is a need for us to focus on growing enrollment, strengthening enrollment and also working towards our retention and graduation goals, she said.

Below said she will continue to focus in campus life despite her division of duties. She said the change gives her the opportunity to engage faculty and focus on partnerships with high schools and other community programs.

The positions were merged during a previous round of budget cuts at the university.

Below said she will miss the student interaction she experienced as Dean of Students.

My best experiences on this campus have been one-on-one conversations with students. That is the hardest part of not being in this role, Below said.