The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

Montgomery ready to advocate, address student needs as dean of students

Dr.+Christy+Montgomery%2C+the+new+dean+of+students%2C+finds+shade+under+the+big+trees+just+outside+of+Pottle+Hall.+
Kennith Woods
Dr. Christy Montgomery, the new dean of students, finds shade under the big trees just outside of Pottle Hall.

When students return for the spring semester, they’ll see a new face in the breezeway advocating for their needs. Dr. Christy Montgomery, a local higher education veteran, is the newly minted dean of students.

After an extensive candidate search during the break, Montgomery was named the new dean and will begin her tenure on Tuesday, Jan. 16. She is replacing Dr. Gabe Willis, who left in October. She’ll also serve as assistant vice president for student affairs under Dr. Eric Summers.

SLU President Dr. William Wainwright spoke highly of Montgomery, noting her experience in higher education and student leadership. 

“Montgomery will bring a wealth of experience, proven practice, innovation and genuine passion for student success to the position. She is a respected leader in student affairs who also gives back to her community in countless ways. She will be an asset to the cadre of exceptional leaders who guide Southeastern in fulfillment of its mission,” Wainwright said.

Montgomery is no stranger to Southeastern; as a student at Xavier University of Louisiana, she sought refuge in SLU’s dormitories during Hurricane Katrina. Nearly two decades later, she’s returning to campus with 12 years of student-oriented experience in tow, ready to advocate for their needs. 

She first began working in higher education as a mental health counselor at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, initially aiming to become a director for a mental health clinic. After she got married, she instead returned to her alma mater to work in its student leadership and service department. 

She led Xavier’s orientations and hosted student leadership courses for student organizations. Finally, she became a student success coach at Northshore Technical Community College (NTCC), which she said gave her a glimpse into college admissions’ procedural facets, including advising, registration, student accommodations and accessibility.   

Eventually, she became NTCC’s vice chancellor of student affairs, diversity and inclusion and oversaw student needs across the institution’s six campuses. 

“It’s just been a blessing and it’s been an honor for me to serve students from these different communities in the Northshore,” she said. 

Her NTCC team originally encouraged her to pursue the open position, stating she could have a greater positive impact on the region by serving students at the larger institution. Also, Montogomery said her family has rooted themselves in the area and has no desire to leave. With these two factors in mind, she decided to put her name in the hat. 

During the interview process, Montgomery met with student leaders from various organizations and departments to learn about their needs and concerns. Students in the meeting expressed frustration over a lack of meaningful student leadership development. She said she plans to implement better leadership development so student leaders have the tools to successfully guide their organizations. 

There was also the discussion of the “Southeastern Runaround,” a situation in which people looking for information are unable to find it because they’ve been sent back and forth between departments and given conflicting advice, which Montgomery said leads to student burnout and giving up. 

As dean of students, she said she looks forward to beginning a “culture change,” one where “people understand we’re here to serve students and that sometimes we have to go above and beyond” for them. 

Montgomery touts her continued dedication to students and her knowledge of nearly all aspects of the student experience as ways she’ll effectively serve the SLU student body.

“I’m not just going to come and do my job. I’m going to go past my job description. I’m really looking at how I can make an impact in an individual’s life,” she said.  

In the student meeting, she recounted the story of a Xavier student who struggled with shyness and a speech impediment. She encouraged him to run for student body president, which he ultimately won. 

As he became more successful, she said he began to overcome his impediment. Now, he’s the principal of a school. 

“How can we impact [students] holistically so they can be productive citizens when they leave? When students engage with me, it’s always my goal to make sure I’ve given them everything I can to make them have a positive impact in their communities,” Montgomery stated. 

The new dean will also look to prioritize mental health during her time in the position. As a counselor, she said she’s sensitive to the ways college and adulthood can affect a student’s mental health. These last few years, she said, have been especially challenging for students, due to the pandemic and various natural disasters. 

She said she wants to educate students on mental health and give faculty and staff the ability to help struggling students. 

“Having processes in place where we can be alerted early on when there’s something challenging going on with a student equips us with the ability to help that student before they spiral,” Montgomery added.

She’ll have ample opportunity to listen to students’ concerns, such as junior communication major Tyler Bailey, who expressed frustration over the school’s “inefficient” messaging. 

“The transparent messaging is inefficient when big events or roadblocks pop up. I’d like to see quicker and more efficient messaging from the school during those events,” Bailey said. 

Sophomore communication major Marissa Porter concurred, and said faculty and administration will ignore complaint emails, further muddying communication between students and higher-ups. She said she would like to see the new dean of students advocate for solutions on their behalf. 

Over the winter semester, Montgomery will be settling into her role and learning more about SLU in general. Students can visit her at the dean of students’ office in the Student Union Breezeway. Even if she’s in the middle of work or a meeting, she said she’ll always be an open door for students. 

Montgomery said, “I never want a student to walk through the door and feel like they’re an inconvenience or bother…That means sometimes, when we’re at our computer working on a report and a student walks through the door, we have to just stop, focus on them and help them get what they need.” 

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About the Contributor
Kennith Woods, News Editor
Kennith Woods is a sophomore communication major with a concentration in television and multimedia journalism and a creative writing minor. A resident of Prairieville, Kennith is The Lion’s Roar’s newly-minted news editor. His passion for progressive change within our communities is the driving factor behind his educational pursuits, as he wants to use journalism to facilitate vital information to the public and simultaneously serve as a mouthpiece for the people’s needs and concerns.
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