Division of Student Affairs

University of Mississippi


sa-staff-brandiBrandi Hephner LaBanc, Ed.D.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
233 Lyceum

I have the honor and privilege to work with an exceptional team of Student Affairs professionals, and I take my role as a student-centered advocate very seriously. As Vice Chancellor, I provide leadership and direction for all of the departments encompassed by the Division of Student Affairs. Our goal is to be educators outside of the classroom, as well as provide services, facilities and programs that will facilitate student success.

I was appointed Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs in July 2012. Prior to coming to the University of Mississippi, I served Northern Illinois University for six years, most recently as their Associate Vice President in the Division of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management. I also have worked at Kent State University, Arizona State University, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Baldwin-Wallace College, and The University of Akron in myriad student service roles.

I earned my bachelor’s degree in Accounting at the University of Akron, my master’s degree in Higher Education Administration & Student Personnel at Kent State University, and my doctoral degree at Northern Illinois University in Adult & Higher Education.

I am an Associate Professor in our excellent Higher Education program, and my research interests include competency development and professional preparation of Student Affairs professionals, transitional experiences of graduate students, and crisis response and management.

My partner, Dave, also works at Ole Miss, and we truly enjoy taking advantage of all of the amazing activities our campus and community offer us.

sa-staff-leslieLeslie Banahan, M.Ed.

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
233 Lyceum

As assistant vice chancellor for student success and wellness, I work closely with the Career Center, Campus Recreation, Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, Student Disability Services, University Counseling Center, and University Health Services.  It is my honor to serve as faculty advisor to the Ole Miss Columns Society.

My office is located in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs’ suite on the second floor of the Lyceum, and I encourage students and staff to visit whenever they have problems or concerns regarding student affairs programs, facilities, or services.

I have earned two degrees from the University of Mississippi and have worked in student affairs at the University of Georgia and Ole Miss for more than 25 years. Early in my career, I served as an international student adviser and designed and implemented orientation programs for international students. Later, I developed and directed new orientation programs for freshmen, transfer students, and parents, and worked closely with parents’ associations.

I’ve written and spoken extensively about parents of today’s college students and continue to speak to hundreds of parents each summer at Ole Miss Orientation sessions. I enjoy teaching the First-Year Experience (EDHE 105) course each fall and love to play golf, run, read, knit, and attend any Ole Miss Athletics event.

sa-staff-lionelLionel Maten

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Director of Housing
233 Lyceum

I joined the administration at the University of Mississippi in June 2012 as Director of Student Housing and Residential Life; in July 2013, I was appointed by Vice Chancellor Brandi Hephner Labanc as Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management and Housing.

I am responsible for providing executive leadership, definition, and organization to enrollment management and oversee instrumental campus departments including the offices of Admissions, Financial Aid, Luckyday, and Student Housing.

I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Monticello and master’s degree from Murray State University. Prior to joining the University of Mississippi, I served as director of housing and residence life at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

My career has included student affairs post at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, University of Southern Mississippi, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Louisville, and Oakland University.

I am a native of Port Hudson, Louisiana and am married to Rose Marie Maten, a graduate of Mississippi Valley State University.  We have two children, Jayden and Kayla.

When I’m not meeting with students, you can find me fishing and taking advantage of other outdoor activities within the North Mississippi region.

Head shot of Melinda Sutton in the Office of the Dean of Students.

Melinda Sutton Noss, Ph.D.

Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students
233 Lyceum

As the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at the University of Mississippi, I am privileged to serve students as they work toward achieving their higher education goals.  My portfolio includes the Ole Miss Union; the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct; the Office of Fraternal Leadership & Learning; and the Office of Leadership & Advocacy, which encompasses student organizations, leadership programming, advising of the Associated Student Body, volunteer opportunities, and crisis response.

Prior to my arrival at Ole Miss in June 2014, I served as the Senior Associate Dean of Student Life at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  I also have held positions at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at Tyler, the University of Houston, and Quinnipiac University, working in a variety of functional areas and roles at each of these institutions.  My first job out of college was serving as a traveling leadership consultant for Gamma Phi Beta Sorority.  I remain an active volunteer leader for that organization and also serve as a Team Leader for the National Panhellenic Conference’s Something of Value program.

I am originally from a small town in Texas and earned my undergraduate degree in public relations with minors in English and French from Southern Methodist University; a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs from Indiana University – Bloomington; and a doctoral degree from the University of Texas at Austin in educational administration, focusing on higher education leadership.

Outside of working with students, I love watching and attending college sporting events, especially football and basketball games.  I also enjoy running, live performances, reading, travel, volunteering, and spending time with family and friends – in particular my three-year-old niece.

Samantha Payton, Ph.D.

Director for Research, Assessment & Planning
233 Lyceum


As the Director of Research, Assessment, and Planning, I serve as direct support to the exemplary professional staff and graduate students who work within the Division of Student Affairs. I provide technical support with survey design and statistical analyses, as well as Excel, Qualtrics, and Tableau software. I direct and coordinate departmental strategic planning, a comprehensive and structured process aimed at focusing efforts to consistently improve and grow programs, services, and initiatives offered by the Division of Student Affairs. Finally, I offer guidance in disseminating results from assessment plans and other research projects via grants, publications, and conference presentations.

Prior to my joining the University of Mississippi in July 2018, I served as an assessment specialist within the Division of Student Life at The University of Alabama with similar functions. I received my Ph.D. in Biology at the University of Alabama in 2016, which might appear to be a grand leap into my current career within higher education. However, my training within the biological sciences taught me how to strategically plan to reach short and long term goals, trained me in the art of statistical evaluation of complex data, and allowed me to become fluent in computer programming (R, Python, Unix) and frequently used software in higher education (Excel, Qualtrics, and Tableau).

I am absolutely passionate about data science. My partner, Jason, is also a biologist and data scientist. When we are not playing with data, you will find us walking our Doberman and Labrador at Lamar Park. We also enjoy Sunday morning reading dates on The Square, lifting weights at the Turner Center, and supporting our student athletes on game day!

Merrill Magruder, M.A.

Coordinator of Family Programs & Special Events
233 Lyceum
(662) 915-5051

As Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, I serve in a variety of roles. My primary responsibilities include planning and coordinating family programs and events through the Ole Miss Family Association, providing coordination of division-wide assessment and strategic planning initiatives, assisting with professional development and recognition initiatives for the division, and coordinating the annual graduate assistantship interview process. And of course, serving students.

The University of Mississippi has been my home since I was a freshman.  I completed my Bachelors of Applied Science in Hospitality Management, followed by my Masters in Higher Education and Student Personnel, both from Ole Miss.  As a graduate student, I was able to work as the Internship Coordinator for the University Career Center.  In this capacity, I helped students find an internship that would complement their interest or major.  I then went to work for the Luckyday Success Program where I was the Project Coordinator for the Freshman Year Experience Program and I oversaw the Luckyday Residential College.

My main focus is working with students and parents to make sure you have a smooth transition to Ole Miss.  I encourage you to reach out with any questions so that I can help you have an amazing experience while you work on your degree.  If you ever have any questions regarding our Division, don’t hesitate to call or email me.  I also am an instructor for EDHE 105, The Freshman Year Experience, a class that I encourage all incoming freshman to enroll in.

My husband, Josh, is an Assistant Professor for the Leadership and Counselor Education Department. We welcomed the smallest rebel to our family in 2014, our precious daughter. We love to participate in all of the activities that Ole Miss and Oxford have to offer.  Our favorites are the amazing meals offered both on and off the Square and story time at Square Books Junior.


SKB_2088-AM_PamPam Barefield

Executive Assistant
233 Lyceum

I serve as Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. My job is to provide administrative support and to help coordinate the daily operations in the office of Student Affairs. My duties include coordinating travel, scheduling and coordinating meetings, maintaining departmental inventory, drafting reports and other correspondence, scheduling appointments, and entering payroll.

I began working at the University of Mississippi in August of 2001. Prior to my current position in Student Affairs, I worked one year as Administrative Secretary in Housing and three years as the SAP Support consultant in the office of Information Technology. I have served on Staff Council as the Staff Textbook Scholarship Administrator. I received my bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Mississippi.

Dale Hall

Graduate Assistant
233 Lyceum

I am a first-year graduate student in the Higher Education/Student Personnel program. Prior to becoming a graduate assistant, I attended the University of Mississippi where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences with a minor in chemistry. As an undergraduate student I served as a staff assistant for the Office of Admissions and as a Co-Director of Entertainment for the Student Activities Association. In my leisure time I delight in traveling, running, spending time with family and friends, and raising my very active Labrador retriever.