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SIUE associate dean to focus on diversity and inclusion

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jeffrey Waple, PhD, has amplified the leadership of Courtney Boddie, PhD, director of Counseling Services, with the added role of associate dean of students for Diversity and Inclusion.

Boddie has extensive experience and academic expertise in the areas of minority stress and cultural trauma, both of which link culture to psychological wellness and is a respected campus leader, Waple said.

As associate dean, he will serve as a member of the Student Affairs Senior Leadership Team and a divisional consultant to offer support services, review policies and contribute to training. He will chair the Division of Student Affairs Diversity and Inclusion Committee, oversee the progress and implementation of the Student Affairs portions of the University Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, and serve as a divisional liaison for multiple initiatives being led across campus.

“I look forward to working with Dr. Boddie and our entire division on these critical issues, and to create action steps to advance professional practice and remove institutional barriers in order to improve student success, retention and graduation,” said Waple. “In this role, Dr. Boddie will provide oversight to our diversity and inclusion efforts with emphasis on policy, training, consultation and connectivity.”

“Dr. Boddie brings many talents to this new role, including his own lived experiences and expertise in multicultural counseling,” added Dean of Students Kara Shustrin. “We are excited to have Dr. Boddie on the Student Affairs leadership team to guide us in looking at the division from a 30,000-foot view, and to review policies, training, programs, staff hiring and development, with diversity and inclusion as a centerpiece to better serve our students.”

Boddie asserts that to be student-ready, culture needs to be centralized as a major variable for decision-making. According to Boddie, students need to be engaged as cultural beings, who possess group identities, stressors and strengths.

“As higher education has diversified, it has yet to jettison its original design, one crafted to work only for white, wealthy, young, highly verbal, cishet, able, U.S.-born men,” he said. “As such, in a reactionary manner, we are often attempting to retrofit a clunky and inflexible system to accommodate cultural differences. This must change. We now need to focus on infusing equity-mindedness in all aspects of practice. This is part in parcel of how we institutionalize factors like anti-racism.”

Boddie aims to apply his professional skills and themes of triage, assessment, diagnosis and treatment to support the division in fulfilling its commitment to student readiness.

“As a mental health provider, my job is to quickly establish a trusting relationship in the rich cultural context of a patient’s life,” Boddie explained. “Ultimately, I seek to support the patient in becoming aware of and motivated to change problematic patterns in living.”

“As director of the center that provides these services,” he continued, “I am a veritable treasure trove of structural, institutional and interpersonal ills of a cultural nature. I note this as my professional practices are grounded in our fields’ multicultural and social justice competencies. These competencies guide us not only to address concerns as they present to the clinic, but also require that we engage in structural advocacy to reduce the likelihood that said concerns would present at all.”

An accomplished academic and proven student champion, Boddie knows the challenges will be many, but believes the SIUE community has a genuine interest in overcoming challenges and removing barriers in order to dismantle systemic racism.

“While my role will centralize and streamline divisional diversity and inclusion efforts, I am in no way a compliance or optics officer,” he concluded. “I am here to support everyone in doing their work as individuals and professionals committed to true student readiness.”

Boddie has been director of Counseling Services since July 2017 and served as interim director of the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion from October 2018-Jan. 2020.

He is actively engaged in University service, including initiatives such as Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, Scholarly Connections and Rewarding Engagement, African American Male Initiative, University Diversity Council, and the Anti-Racism Task Force. He teaches courses in the Department of Psychology, including Psychosocial Foundation of African American Worldviews and Multicultural Counseling.

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