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USM Dean of Students Cantrell Selected for Highly Competitive Training Program

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 09:15am | By: Van Arnold


Dr. Sirena Cantrell, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), has been selected to participate in an exclusive training program offered by NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

The NASPA Certificate in Student Affairs Law and Policy offers the only certificate in the important area of law and policy tailored specifically for student affairs educators. This 23-hour, intensive residential certificate provides an opportunity for in-depth study to enhance student affairs professionals' knowledge and understanding of law and policy.

Cantrell, who came to USM in 2019, will be part of the inaugural cohort which will take place June 24-28 in Clearwater Beach, Fla.

“I applied to be a part of the first cohort of the NASPA Certificate in Student Affairs Law and Policy because I feel that it is critical in my role as Dean of Students to be knowledgeable and well versed in law and policy,” said Cantrell. “I was honored when I was selected to attend the program. This is the only program that is tailored specifically to student affairs educators.”

Cantrell has years of experience in higher education serving in numerous roles throughout her career in student affairs. She holds a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Psychology from Millsaps College, a Master of Science in Counselor Education from Mississippi State University and Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education at Mississippi State University. Before coming to USM, she served as Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator at Mississippi University for Women.

“We are pleased to learn that Dr. Cantrell was selected for this highly competitive program. This selection shows the quality of the staff of educators at Southern Miss. The students and the University will benefit from her knowledge and additional training,” said Dr. Kristi Motter, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at USM.

Led by Law and Policy professionals, the program will provide information and skill development to develop basic law, governance and policy competency in all identified categories and enhance or develop competency in many intermediate and advanced competency categories as well. Moreover, the program will address various "hot topics," in higher education law as a context for developing competencies while ensuring that participants learn core legal concepts that will help them work through recurring issues. 

As far as her expectations for the intensive program, Cantrell noted, “I know that I will be among a very talented group of student affairs educators. This opportunity will allow me to learn from others and provide me with in-depth study of law and policy that I can bring back to USM.”