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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

Juan Meraz Assumes Different Role at MSU After New Assistant VP Chosen

Juan Meraz
Missouri State University

Missouri State University has appointed a new assistant vice president for Student Affairs who will in part assume responsibilities previously held by Juan Meraz.

The announcement of Dr. Michele Smith was made Thursday on the university’s website.

According to the news release, Smith will oversee units in the multicultural cluster within student affairs. That includes multicultural programming; its two multicultural resource center locations and the LGBT Resource Center, TRiO and Access Programs.

Smith assumed those responsibilities on July 1, as Juan Meraz was moved to the department of diversity and inclusion. According to the school, the former assistant vice president of Multicultural Services is now focused primarily on diversity training initiatives. His current title is assistant vice president for Diversity and Inclusion and will report to Wes Pratt, who oversees that office and is also MSU’s chief diversity officer.  

Suzanne Shaw, the university’s vice president for marking and communications, told the Springfield News-Leader that Meraz will not be working with students.

Meraz was the subject of controversy early this year after allegations of unethical behavior and discriminatory remarks toward students. In February, a small group of students under the title Springfield Coalition for Minority Advancement pushed for Meraz to be removed from his position. The university later said it had disciplined Meraz and he issued an apology.

Dr. Michele Smith
Credit Missouri State University
Missouri State University
Dr. Michele Smith

In its news release Thursday, MSU said that Dr. Smith will also sit on the VP Staff team and the Student Affairs Leadership Team, plus continue her role as a tenure-track faculty member in the College of Education.

“Dr. Smith has a wealth of experience in the areas of student development and student success,” said Dr. Dee Siscoe, vice president for student affairs. “In addition to her faculty positions at Ohio University, Alliant International University and now Missouri State University, Dr. Smith has served as the director of Upward Bound and the director of student diversity, recruitment and special programs at Ohio University and the director of academic advising and retention at Delgado Community College, West Bank Campus in New Orleans.”

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