top of page
  • The Current UMSL

Interview With Dr. Jessica Long-Pease

By: Lily Warden

Dr. Jessica Long-Pease is the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, stepping into the role in June 2023. Dr. Long-Pease received her B.J. in Magazine Writing and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Missouri. As an alum of UMSL, she received her M.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and received her Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Maryville University. Her Vice Provost for Student Affairs role is her most recent development in her 16-year career at UMSL.

Photo by UMSL Division of Student Affairs

Q: Tell me a little about yourself.

A: I have been at the University of Missouri-St. Louis for almost 17 years. I stepped into the Vice Provost for Student Affairs role in June 2023 officially. I have a background in higher education and I’m an UMSL alum. I did my master’s work here. I have two kiddos, my daughter is 12 and my son is 6. So, it’s a very busy household. We’re constantly on the go. I’ve really worked in Student Affairs my entire career. I’m just really interested in the student experience after being involved as a student myself in my undergrad. I thought “I get paid to do this for a living? That would be cool to stay in education for a long time.”

Q: After bouncing around the UM System, how did you come back to UMSL?

A: I started at Missouri S&T. It was my first position out of undergrad. I was doing my master’s work at the time working with student activities there. I was there for a 9-month appointment. Then, I moved to Kansas City for two years at UMKC. I actually did my internship there, which is how I got my foot in the door. They were going through a period of transition and there was an opportunity closer to home. St. Louis has been home for me. My family was here, and my siblings were here, so it was an opportunity not only to expand my work with fraternity and sorority life, which is a certain area I haven’t been engaged with before, but also an opportunity to come home where my siblings were. I interviewed for two positions on campus, actually. One in housing and one in student involvement. I managed to snag the position in student involvement, which is really exciting. It's been an adventure working my way around the system!

Q: What resources are available to students through Student Affairs?

A: I think when we talk about student affairs, a lot of people think of the fun stuff. There’s that side of it and there’s also the side of it that’s helping support the health, wellbeing, and belonging of students. We do have healthcare here on campus for students. Partnered with the physical health component, there’s also the mental health piece. Our team in health counseling and disability services can help with all those things. I think that is a place where students will talk to me and say, “I didn’t know we had that, that’s super cool.”

Outside of that physical and mental health piece, that sense of belonging and feeling of connectedness to the campus is important to everybody. The more connected we feel to a place, the more likely we are to stay there and finish our degree program. Student Involvement, Residential Life and Housing, those groups really focus on making sure students are connected. I would also say Career Services. They get students to connect and give career counseling, resume reviews, connections to internships and opportunities here on campus. Just a small smattering of what we do, but I think all of those pieces make up a good cross-section of what you can expect to find in Student Affairs.

Q: What’s your favorite part about your role?

A: The students! You wouldn’t do this if you didn’t love the students. I just love the stories I get to hear, and the students I get to meet that come to the institution for different reasons at different points in their lives. The goal is always the same. It’s to get them to create a better future, whether it’s for themselves or their entire family, dependents, just make somebody proud, whatever that may look like. That ability to be a small part of a student’s journey is so incredibly fulfilling for me.

Q: If students wanted to get more involved on campus, what would your recommendations be?

A: Go to where the people are! Don’t isolate yourself, whether that’s in the classroom or the residence hall, make sure that you’re trying to find others. Come to the Student Center and have lunch, go to the Rec Center and join a group fitness class. If you’re coming in for the first time, consider living on campus. Also, there are things like student employment on campus that are going to create those built-in relationships that I think folks don’t naturally gravitate toward. Find other people on campus and don’t be afraid to step into one of those spaces and try it out. If you give it a whirl, you might meet folks who have similar interests that can help make you feel like you have those strong bonds.

Q: Is there anything else you wanted to say?

A: I would just say students should not be afraid to pop into Student Affairs. We are right here in the corner of the MSC in 218. We can answer questions and offer resources. There’s always something that’s going to allow us to connect and provide some resources or directions if need be. We love to take student feedback. If there’s something students are passionate about seeing improved or changed, we’re the right division to come to. Stop in!


bottom of page