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Northwest Missouri State University

Meet the Vice President

Dr. Juanita SimmonsDr. Juanita Simmons was appointed in August of 2016 to serve as the institution’s first vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion - a new senior leadership role designed to help broaden diversity, equity and inclusion efforts campus wide for students and employees and impact community initiatives.

“Dr. Simmons is the right leader at the right time, and we welcome her to our learning community,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said.  “Her life and academic experiences are rich, real and perfectly suited to help us bolster our efforts in terms of access and success, teaching and learning, and campus and community climate.”

Simmons comes to Northwest from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she has served as a faculty member since 2003, teaching educational leadership and policy analysis.  Previously, she served in various administrative roles in the Austin and Dallas, Texas independent school districts.  She also was a high school English, journalism and humanities teacher in the Dallas Independent School District.

Dr. Simmons has a book under contract about emancipated leadership, holds numerous professional certifications and has earned an array of institutional honors.  Her resume includes several refereed articles, book chapters, conference proceedings and presentations.  She also has been awarded a variety of grants and contracts.

She has a Ph.D. and master’s degree, both in educational administration from the University of Texas-Austin.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and speech from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Simmons, who began her work at Northwest on August 8,  called the opportunity to serve at Northwest an honor and credited University and city of Maryville leadership for taking an active role in enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

“My interaction with this community has proven to be synergistic and in direct alignment with my lifelong work for equity and respect of personhood,” Simmons said.  “The vision of President Jasinski, the Northwest Leadership Team and the Strategic Objective 3 members speaks hope for the entire Maryville community to become a model for unity and goodwill.  A model is critically needed to restore hope in the midst of our current national uncertainties.  The growth and development plans of this city, as shown by Assistant City Manager Ryan Heiland, make this vision ripe for Maryville to be that beacon of light for the nation.  It is my desire to work with others, including the faculty, staff and students, to help put this great vision into action.”

The Board of Regents approved the addition of the vice president position in April 2016 with the support of a student-approved culture and climate fee.  Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Matt Baker said at the time that the need for the position is part of Northwest’s responsibility to prepare students to live and work in a diverse and rapidly changing environment while ensuring faculty, staff and community members are appropriately equipped to help deliver the outcome.