Odegard-Koester Named Interim Dean of College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Dr. Melissa Odegard-Koester

Dr. Melissa Odegard-Koester, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology and Counseling at Southeast Missouri State University, has been named interim dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Southeast.

Dr. Mike Godard, Southeast provost, said Odegard-Koester will begin transitioning to the interim dean position after the spring 2020 semester ends.

Godard, in consultation with President Carlos Vargas, tapped Odegard-Koester for the position after the University was unable to come to terms with finalists who interviewed for the dean position during a recent search.

“As a result of this failed search, it will be necessary to have an interim dean for at least another year,” Godard said.

Odegard-Koester will replace Dr. Hamner Hill who has been serving as interim dean. Hill plans to return to the Department of Political Science, Philosophy and Religion as department chair effective July 1, 2020, his previous post prior to assuming the interim dean role.

Godard thanked Hill for his service, Odegard-Koester for her willingness to take on this new role, Kent Library Dean Barbara Glackin who chaired the search committee, and members of that committee.

Odegard-Koester holds a Doctor of Philosophy in counselor education and counseling with an emphasis in clinical mental health counseling from Idaho State University. She has chaired the Department of Psychology and Counseling the past two years. She served as interim chair of the former Department of Psychology for one year prior to her current appointment. She also has served as assistant to the associate dean of the College of Education, Counseling Program coordinator, and Mental Health Counseling Program coordinator.

Her professional research and publications highlight the need for counselor educators, supervisors, and professional counselors to incorporate social justice paradigms into their work. She previously worked with both urban and rural populations within a clinical context. An article she recently co-authored, “Feedback: The Foundation of Kind Leadership,” will be the featured article in the spring 2020 issue of The Department Chair. Odegard-Koester also serves as an expert panelist for the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Show-Me ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) through the Missouri Telehealth Network.

“Dr. Odegard-Koester is a gifted visionary leader, consensus builder and innovative spirit who, I am sure, will be a tremendous asset to the entire college,” he said.