December 07, 2011

Barnett heads non-traditional student office

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale has hired its first full-time coordinator of Non-Traditional Student Services/Single Parent Programs.

Deborah R. Barnett, a non-traditional student herself, recently began working in the position.  Barnett, who is from Marion, is working on her doctorate in education at SIU Carbondale where she also completed her master of science in education in December 2010.  She also holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Ky.

“Southern Illinois University Carbondale has taken an important step forward in providing services to our non-traditional student community,” Katherine L. Sermersheim, associate dean of students, said.  “We have always assisted our non-traditional students and single parent students but previously services were separate and with limited resources.  Now, with the recent hire of Deborah Barnett as the coordinator of Non-Traditional Students/Single Parent Programs, we have successfully merged those programs into one.  This allows for better utilization of services and resources and increases the visibility and awareness of this student population.  We are pleased to have Deborah join the team of Student Life and Intercultural Relations.” 

The Non-Traditional Student Services/Single Parent Programs office is located in Room 305 at the Student Center.  There, students can learn about programs, organizations, committees and resources available to them both on and off campus.  They can also find out more by calling 618/453-7521, by emailing or by visiting the website at

“I am excited that SIU Carbondale has taken the step to further support its non-traditional student population through a coordinator for Non-Traditional Student Services/Single Parent Programs,” Barnett said.  “As this population continues to grow across the country and on this campus, I feel that there is a great potential to not only reach out to our current students but to communicate to prospective students that the University has a place for them.  As a non-traditional student myself, I look forward to connecting with other students on campus to determine how we might better support them during their time at SIU Carbondale.”

While continuing her education at SIU Carbondale, Barnett has been a graduate assistant in the Center for Graduate Teaching Excellence since January and for the previous year was a graduate assistant and course manager for the workforce education and development department’s off-campus degree program.  She was previously an administrator for four years, preceded by a year as director of development, at the Unity Christian School in Energy.    She also has prior experience as a small business owner. 

Barnett said in the short time she’s been in her new position, she’s already met a number of non-traditional students and their families and “they have inspired me greatly.  I can certainly relate to their stories of balancing work, family, school and all of the other responsibilities that they might have.  My desire is to not only hear from these students but to join with others across campus to support them and to cheer them on as they move closer to the goal of completing their degrees,” Barnett said.