Photo courtesy of Southern Miss
When Delores McNair started her journey at Southern Miss, she was the office secretary. As she took on more responsibilities and duties throughout the years, the title of her position went through several changes too.
After serving Southern Miss for 21 years, McNair was named the new Assistant Dean of Student Outreach and Support.
“Anytime you can help a student continue in their classes and see them graduate, it is rewarding and outweighs the stressful days,” McNair said.
The position was held by Alfreda Horton until May 2019. McNair worked closely by Horton’s side for years, and she said it felt right for her to step in and fill those shoes when Horton retired.
McNair has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is currently pursuing her master’s in child and family studies here at Southern Miss. While pursuing both her degree and beginning her new position, she said she discovered getting her degree is more about knowing and understanding where students come from and less about career choices.
“It is about what the family dynamics are and what could be occurring that is impacting their education and knowing how to address those issues,” McNair said.
McNair previously served as Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Students where her title consisted of doing clerical tasks, working closely student organizations like the Student Government Association and helping with event management and budget costs.
“I serve as a resource to students, particularly students who are having difficulty with continuing their classes, either due to illness or other circumstances,” McNair said. “We serve as a liaison between the student and the instructors.”
McNair said she believes she has had exposure to all areas of student affairs, which has given her the knowledge needed to jump into her new position.
Vice President for Student Affairs Dee Dee Anderson said she is excited about McNair’s appointment.
“Delores has an extensive amount of experience working in the Dean of Students Office, helping us to achieve our mission of developing healthy, connected, learning-focused students and communities,” Anderson said.
Because her previous role was more administrative, she said she would often refer students to Horton.
“I am now the problem-solver—I am not the referrer anymore,” McNair said. “I am that person; I take ownership of what a student is experiencing so I can know how to help them. I am learning so much more about Southern Miss and so much about the students.”
McNair’s new position still deals with student services; however, it will give her more one-on-one time with struggling students in order to help them. With her open-door policy, students are welcome to walk in and ask for help if any problems arise.
“There is no time frame when dealing with students—they pretty much just come in when needed,” McNair said. “You have to be prepared for walk-ins. You have to be prepared for when you are just walking around campus, and someone knows what you do; you will be stopped and asked for help. It is more of a hands-on with student resources job.”
Associate Dean of Students Thomas Deus said he believes this position is perfect for McNair.
“I think she is a great asset to the department,” Deus said. “With all the knowledge and experience that she has, it is very beneficial. As far as supporting students, that is all she has done her entire career. … The students are really going to like her and appreciate all that she will continue to do for them.”