Meridian Alumna Appointed Dean of Student Services

Deanna Smith has recently been appointed dean of Student Services at Meridian Community College (MCC).

Smith first worked at the Mississippi community college for over three years before joining the Mississippi State University (MSU) faculty as a regional admissions counselor for three years, then later returning to Meridian in 2009 as an adjunct public speaking instructor.

As an alumna of the college, working at Meridian has “always been home” for her, she said.

“I honestly could not have loved my experience more” as a Meridian Community College student, Smith said. “The education I received while at MCC prepared me to have a smooth transition to MSU.”

As a student, Smith was involved in several campus clubs and organizations and served as a campus ambassador with the Ivy League Recruiters where they would “visit local high schools and help with orientation sessions to help recruit students to MCC,” an aspect that continued in her professional MCC positions.

“I always enjoy going back to our local high schools and sharing my story with the students,” Smith said.

A Meridian native, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and master’s degree in teaching from Mississippi State University.

Prior to her newest position, Smith was the director of advising and retention at the institution, where she worked with all of the MCC departments to ensure student success.

She was instrumental in assisting with the implementation of its College Navigator Program.

“This program helps our at risk students to stay in classes and achieve their educational goals,” Smith said. “Within the college navigator program, there was an Early Alert system built by our IT department that the faculty use to help identify those students in need of intervention.”

Now in her new role as dean of student services, Smith said she is “looking forward to collaborating with co-workers to brainstorm on ways we can continue to make the MCC experience a great one for our students.”

In addition to her new role, Smith serves as The Phil Hardin Foundation Honors College Adviser at the community college, where she teaches and advises over 60 honors students with class schedules, transfer and graduation requirements.

Smith is also the current project manager for the implementation of DegreeWorks – a popular web-based tool that assists students and advisers monitor progress toward degree completion – at Meridian Community College. DegreeWorks is set to have a “soft roll out” in May and officially launch before the start of the fall 2019 semester.

Meridian offers associate degree program and certification courses in work based learning, workforce training, university transfer and career and technical workforce education. MCC also offers several credit and non-credit courses online for students who cannot attend classes taught in traditional classroom settings.

The college annually serves 3,390 students, 74 percent of which are enrolled full-time.

Smith is currently in the process of becoming familiar with her new responsibilities, talking with department heads and other college leaders to collaborate and establish new opportunities for MCC students to continue to be successful, she said.

“I am thankful and excited for the opportunity and everything to come for MCC. I really am,” Smith said in her appointment announcement. “I want students to be happy about coming to MCC and when they walk into student services they know, ‘hey, those people are here to help us.’”

For many students, their first encounter with a community college, college or university is usually with a student services staff member – a center that deals with admissions, advising, financial aid, campus life, campus police, athletics and residence life.

“We want students to be successful, but more than that, we want the students at MCC to be successful so they can go out and help spread our word,” she said. “We want to make their MCC experience that much better.”

Monica Levitan can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @monlevy_

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