Donna Bess Myers was appointed Dean of Students on August 4, 2021 after serving as interim Dean of Students since January 2020. Previously, she served as the Assistant Dean to former Dean of Students, Dr. Mona Hicks, who left SLU at the end of 2019 to build a Student Development Office at Stanford University.
“The Dean of Students Office is the care and concern office,” said Bess Myers. “We are here to assist students no matter where they are in their education. We really believe in the integrity of each individual: mind, body and spirit.”
Though Bess Myers is new to the position, she has been with SLU since 1997, when she first started graduate school to earn a master’s degree in student personnel. It was then that she also began her professional career with SLU, originally working for the Residence Hall Association before serving as a coordinator for what is now the Student Involvement Center. Afterward, she served as an advisor for a number of organizations, including the Student Activities Board, the Great Issues Committee and the Filipino Student Association.
“It was then that I was really getting a chance to work with student organizations in a way I hadn’t done yet,” Bess Myers said.
After, she worked for a time as Interim Director of the Cross-Cultural Center, then moved back to the Student Involvement Center as first the Interim Director—then the Director. It was in this position that she also became the advisor for the Student Government Association, before eventually transitioning to the Director of Student Support and Parent/Family Programs. This led her to Assistant Dean of Students, her final title before becoming Dean of Students.
“I heard from a colleague the other day that if you need to get something done, give it to a busy person,” Bess Myers said. “But it’s all a labor of love.”
Bess Myers credited much of her work to the two women who served in the position of Dean of Students before her—Dr. Mona Hicks and Mrs. Mary Bruemmer (Dean of Women ‘67).
“Leadership is cool, but women in leadership is different,” Bess Myers said. “We lead differently because of our perspectives and experiences.”
Bess Myers is coming into this academic year with a prioritization of students’ mental health. To address this, the Dean of Students’ office works closely with any and all departments at SLU, including the Counseling Center and with Eric Anderson, the new Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Well-Being.
“I’ve known Eric for many, many, many years,” Bess Myers said. “One of the many wonderful lessons I’ve learned about SLU is that it’s very relational. If people have a relationship, then you can build trust. Once you build trust, you’re able to work through just about anything together, and have that open communication.”
She also feels motivated by her own experiences with undergraduate school, which weren’t all positive—something she said helps her understand when students come into her office who are having a hard time.
“I wanted to provide the opportunity for students to have the opportunity for a great experience,” Bess Myers said. “Honestly, sometimes being at Saint Louis University is not always the best time for students. So we can go through trials and tribulations—as we all do because that’s the human condition—but come together in community to help navigate them.”
She emphasized that while she might not have all the answers, she will always serve as a central place, guiding students on where to go from her office.
“If you don’t know where to start, start with us, and we will put you in the right direction,” Bess Myers said. “I want this to be a place where students can be themselves. Because everybody has a story. Everybody comes from somewhere. I want students to feel as though they matter.”
The Dean of Students’ office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is located in the Busch Student Center, Suite 356. The team, including Dean Donna, can be reached by phone at 314-977-9378 or email at [email protected].