“Strength of character and a commitment to students shines through in interactions with Dr. Mmeje,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “His experience at urban, private universities in Chicago and Los Angeles also set him apart as a candidate for this important position at SMU. We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Mmeje to the Hilltop in Dallas.”
In his new duties, Mmeje (pronounced MAY-jay) will oversee areas including the Office of the Dean of Student Life; Residence Life; women’s, LGBT, multicultural, volunteer and leadership programs; student activities; student conduct; the Hegi Family Career Development Center; campus ministries; health and wellness programs, including the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center; the Hughes-Trigg Student Center and the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.
As assistant vice president and dean of students at Loyola University Chicago since September 2014, Mmeje has been responsible for several functional areas that support Loyola’s academic mission and promote a vibrant campus life, including the Office of the Dean of Students, Off-Campus Student Life, Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution, Student Activities & Greek Affairs, Leadership Development and Second Year Experience, Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, and the Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC). He has almost 15 years of progressively responsible student affairs experience in judicial affairs, crisis management, retention and academic support services, and student advocacy and support.
In addition, he oversees Loyola’s Behavioral Concerns Team and co-chairs the Threat Assessment Team. He also co-chairs the Loyola Experience Implementation Committee, which is responsible for ensuring alignment of the institution’s academic and co-curricular programs through ongoing collaborations that include New Student Convocation, Welcome Week, and Student Support and Retention Initiatives, among others.
“I am excited to join the SMU community,” Mmeje said. “Throughout the search process, I was struck by the passion and enthusiasm with which everyone I met described their love and tremendous pride for SMU. I look forward to partnering with the outstanding professionals in the Division of Student Affairs, faculty and academic leaders to offer a seamlessly integrated curricular and co-curricular experience that supports the holistic development of each student. I am eager to meet the SMU student community and to begin working on their behalf.”
Mmeje began his career in student life and development at the University of Vermont in Burlington, where he served as assistant director of the Office of Judicial Affairs from 2003-04. He served the University of Southern California (USC) as assistant director of student judicial affairs and community standards (2004-05), and as student affairs advisor and special projects coordinator for the vice president of student affairs (2005-06).
From 2006-10, Mmeje was director of the USC Scholars Program, a funded outreach and retention initiative serving local underrepresented, first-generation, and low- to moderate-income transfer students. In this role, he collaborated with faculty to develop, implement and assess programs that facilitated the academic and social success of these students at USC. In addition, he provided regular training for academic advisors on how to better serve the university’s transfer population, as well as admissions and financial aid counseling for students and their parents and guardians.
His eight-year career with Loyola University Chicago included service as associate dean of student life (2010-13) before his promotion to assistant vice president, Student Life, in July 2013. Concurrently with his other duties, he also served as interim director of the Department of Residence Life from 2015-16.
Mmeje received his B.A. degree in sociology and Black studies from the University of California-Santa Barbara. He earned a Master of Education degree in higher education student affairs administration from the University of Vermont and his Ed.D. in educational leadership from USC. In addition, he holds a Certificate in Management and Leadership in Education from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
His wife, Natasha, is a health educator and currently serves as assistant director of Loyola’s Wellness Center for Health Promotion. She also is a trained medical advocate for survivors of sexual assault in the State of Illinois. They have two daughters, Ayana and Savannah.
Mmeje was selected after a nationwide search coordinated by a campus committee chaired by Harold W. Stanley, vice president for executive affairs. He replaces the late Pamela D. Anthony, who died Jan. 17, 2017, after a battle with cancer. Joanne Vogel, SMU associate vice president and dean of student life, currently serves as vice president ad interim.