Brandi Hephner LaBanc, Ed.D.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
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.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Wellness and Student Success
As the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Wellness and Student Success, I provide leadership to the Student Health Center, University Counseling Center, University Recreation, the Center for Student Success and First Year Experience, and the Luckyday program. Within these departments, the mission is to provide transformative wellness programs and student success experiences for constituents of the University of Mississippi.
Prior to joining the University of Mississippi in August 2019, I served as the Assistant Dean of Health Wellness and Prevention Services at Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, NC. In this role I provided management and leadership to the Counseling Center, Health Center, the Office of Interpersonal Violence Prevention, University Recreation, and Student Conduct. My responsibilities included collaborations and creating successful education and prevention initiatives for students and campus constituents. Since beginning my career in student affairs, I’ve served in many capacities: Health Educator, Principal Investigator and Grant Liaison for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Prevention initiatives, Director of Student Development, Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor, Assessment Coordinator, adjunct faculty in Health Science, Deputy Title IX Coordinator, and Director of First Year Experience, all of which allowed me to acquire extensive servant leadership skills and knowledge of success factors for effective organizational leadership.
I am a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where I earned my Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education. I earned my PhD in Public Health with a specialization in Epidemiology from Walden University in Minnesota. I am a Certified Health Education Specialist and a Certified Health Coach. I am passionate about wellness and have spent the past two decades helping students, faculty, staff, and other professionals in higher education understand the connection between wellness and student success. Educating students and student success are at the core of what I value as a professional and reflect my commitment to transforms lives, communities, and the world.
My partner Christopher and I are proud to call Oxford home where we live with our children Kai and Eddison.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
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.
Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students
I arrived at the University of Mississippi in August 2019, being honored to join this wonderful community as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. Prior to my arrival at UM, I served for five years as Vice President for Student Affairs at Rogers State University, overseeing numerous programs and services that promoted student engagement and success. Before my time at RSU, I served for 10 years at Howard Payne University in central Texas in three successive student affairs leadership roles, culminating my time there as Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students. I earned bachelors and masters degrees at Kansas State University and a doctorate in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University. My earliest professional experiences were in student housing at two universities in Abilene, Texas, serving there between my academic stints at K-State and BGSU.
I am actively involved in NASPA where I currently serve as Director for the Public Policy Division (2019-2021). Prior to this role, I served as Coordinator of Region Finances for the IV-West region (2017-2019), while simultaneously sitting on the Small Colleges & Universities Division advisory board as Public Policy Liaison, which also placed me on the Public Policy Division’s leadership team. From 2015-2017, I served a two-year term as the Student-Athlete Knowledge Community chair.
My spouse, Miranda, and I are thankful to be in Oxford where we live with our two young children.
Samantha Payton, Ph.D.
Director for Research, Assessment & Planning
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!
Coordinator of Family Programs & Special Events
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.
I serve as Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Director of Housing. I provide administrative support and help coordinate the daily operations within the office. My responsibilities include coordinating travel, scheduling and coordinating meetings, maintaining departmental inventory, drafting reports and other correspondence, scheduling appointments, and monitoring of departmental budgets.
I began working at the University of Mississippi in August of 2001. Prior to my current position in Student Affairs, I served as Administrative Secretary in Housing and as the SAP Support Consultant in the office of Information Technology. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Mississippi, and I am currently working on a master’s degree in Higher Education at the University.
In my leisure time, I enjoy working out, all things outdoors and spending time with my family and friends.
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.