Staff

Welcome to Student Life! Life outside the college classroom can be as much a learning experience as inside the classroom. We endeavor to create a living learning environment for students whether they live in residence or commute to campus. We base our living learning philosophy around a wellness model. Students are encouraged to take advantage of all the programs that our various offices provide to the campus community. We want students to learn and grow in all facets of their lives.

Student Life provides the following opportunities for growth:

Meet the Staff of Student Life

 Edyta Cichon-Barche

Edyta Cichon-Barche – Executive Assistant to the V.P. for Student Life and International Education
Associate of Arts in Accounting – Marshalltown Community College; Master of Science – Walsh College of Accounting and Business Administration; Master of Arts – Technical University in Lublin, Poland

Edyta joined the peacock family in 2017 as a Student Record Specialist. After spending almost a year at the Registrar Office, she was hired as Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Student Life and International Education. Originally from Poland, she lived in Michigan and earned her Master of Science degree in Management at Walsh College of Accounting and Business Administration. Edyta enjoys traveling with her family. In her spare time she likes all kinds of crafting and DIY, along with reading and watching British TV shows.

 Jake Bass' Picture

Jake Bass – Coordinator of Student Activities
Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Mathematics - Upper Iowa University; Master of Education (In Progress) - Upper Iowa University

Jake Bass is pursuing his Master’s in Education.  He is an Upper Iowa University graduate (’14), where he received his undergraduate in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Mathematics. Jake traveled from Perris, California to become a Peacock.  He came to Upper Iowa University to play on the football team, but quickly fell in love with the education program, Fayette and student activities. Jake is looking forward to continuing his peacock education and gaining memorable experiences along the way. He is always looking to help others as long as he can have fun doing it. 

 Ismael Betancourt's Picture

Ismael J. Betancourt Vélez, E.M.I.B. - Vice President of Student Life and International Education
Bachelor's Degree in International Business and International Studies – Saint Louis University, Executive Masters in International Business – Saint Louis University

Mr. Betancourt joined the UIU executive management staff in August of 2012 and is part of the President’s Council. He brings more than 19 years of experience in domestic and international higher education and provides leadership for all student life and international education operations including Housing and Residence Life, Counseling and Wellness, Recreation Center, Student Activities, Outdoor Pursuits, Disabilities Services, Dining Services, Security, International Admissions and Recruitment, Education Abroad, Intensive English Program, International Student and Scholar Services, UIU Hong Kong and UIU Malaysia.

Prior to arriving at Upper Iowa University, Mr. Betancourt held the positions of Executive Director of International Education at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio; Director of Education Abroad at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona; and Director of the Office of International Services at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Mr. Betancourt has held leadership positions at NAFSA: Association of International Educators and currently serves as a Commissioner and Certified Site Reviewer for the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC). He is also a member of the Forum of Education Abroad, the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), and an ex-Board member of the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council.

Mr. Betancourt holds a Bachelor's Degree in International Business and International Studies, and an Executive Masters in International Business. Both degrees are from Saint Louis University. 

 Ian Bechetl

Ian Bechtel, Graduate Assistant for Campus Recreation 
Bachelor of Recreation and Sports Management – St. Cloud State University; Master of Sports Administration (In Progress) – Upper Iowa University

Ian previously worked in the Intramural Program at SCSU and developed a passion for campus recreation with a focus on intramurals and club sports. Originally from a small town in Northern Minnesota, Ian enjoys watching any sporting event and participating in any that he can (favorite teams are the Minnesota Timberwolves, Baltimore Orioles, and the Minnesota Vikings), as well as hunting and fishing.

Jenn Biederman's Photo

Jenn Biederman - Administrative Assistant for Student Life
Associate of Arts – Northeast Iowa Community College

Jenn Biederman has been assisting students in Student Life since 2002. Her responsibilities vary on a day-to-day basis and include some of the following: assist students, answer incoming calls, photograph and issue University IDs and assist in the production and distribution of publications. She oversees the Student Life front desk staff all while ensuring the UIU community receives a warm welcome as they enter the Student Life Suite. Prior to working at UIU, she worked as a dental assistant for eight years. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband, Jon, and two children. Jenn loves to crochet and is an avid paper crafter, which has led to several cards being published.

Crystal Cole's Photo Crystal Cole - Director of Counseling and Wellness
Bachelor of Arts, Family Studies - University of Northern Iowa; Master of Social Work - University of Northern Iowa; Master of Business Administration - Upper Iowa University

Crystal is the Director of Counseling and Wellness at Upper Iowa University. She comes to UIU with a background in healthcare.  Crystal is excited to work with students, staff, and faculty to help achieve individual success for students.  She enjoys spending time with her husband, Justin, and their two children.  She also enjoys being outdoors, reading, and running on occasion.  Crystal's primary responsibilities are counseling students both locally and from satellite locations as well as developing and implementing wellness programs and strategies for the UIU community.
 Daryl Grove

Daryl Grove - Assistant Dean of Student Life
Bachelor of Arts – Buena Vista University; Master of Education (M.Ed) – The Citadel; Ed.D. (In Progress) – Grand Canyon University 

Daryl Grove has been a part of helping students achieve their personal best at UIU since 2002. He loves traveling, sports, kayaking, being outdoors, coaching, and spending time with friends and family. Daryl lives in Fayette with his wife Marta and three little peacocks in training. Responsible for campus recreation, leadership, civic engagement, Peacocks for Progress, student activities, clubs and organizations, student government, and orientation Grove strives to empower students and provide useful, helpful and fun opportunities to the campus community.

 Jordan Hay's Picture

Jordan Hay - Residence Area Coordinator
Bachelor of Arts, Business Administration - Upper Iowa University

Jordan Hay is the Residence Area Coordinator for the South Villages and Lee Tower.  Jordan graduated from Upper Iowa University with a Business Administration degree and was a five year member of the Men’s Basketball team.  Jordan supervises the Resident Assistant staff in the South Villages as well as Lee Tower.  A few of Jordan’s hobbies are playing golf at the local country club and playing cards with friends.  Jordan is originally from Stanwood, Iowa.  

 Joy Jager's photo

Joy Jager - Coordinator of Project Stand UP

Joy Jager was hired in February of 2017 as Project Coordinator of the Federal OVW grant to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking on campus (Project STAND UP). She brings over 20 years of victim service experience and a commitment to Upper Iowa University students, staff, faculty and employees.  She is the mom of 2 and grandmother of 5.  In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, reading and working on community projects.  

 Llani Main

Llani Main – Graduate Assistant for Health and Wellness
Bachelor of Science, Communication Studies – Upper Iowa University; Master of Public Administration (In Progress) – Upper Iowa University

Llani joined the Peacock family as the Graduate Assistant of Wellness in January 2018 after completing her undergrad degree at Upper Iowa. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska; Llani has made Fayette her new home and definitely bleeds Peacock Blue. Llani is pursuing her Master in Public Administration with an emphasis in Healthcare Management. She loves bringing awareness of many topics to the students, faculty, and staff at Upper Iowa relating anywhere from alcohol education, domestic violence, stress management, and much more! In her free time she likes to cuddle up for naps with her fur babies- Butter and Scotch, hike, paint, and of course binge watch Netflix. A fun fact about Llani is that she is a 14 year long vegetarian—and going strong!

 Jean Merkle

Jean Merkle - Dean of Student Life
Bachelor of Arts, Communications – University of Minnesota; Master of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies - Augustana College

Jean Merkle is the Dean of Students for Upper Iowa University. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Communication from the University of Minnesota, Morris and Master's Degree from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jean arrived at Upper Iowa University in 2003 and has been in the field of Higher Education since 1994. She has served in multiple capacities of Student Development throughout her 16 year career; Residence Life, First Year Experience, Career Services, Security, and Student Activities. Jean's current responsibilities include being the Director of Residence Life and Security. Jean is married to Jeff Merkle and has 3 children and resides in Fayette. 

 Anna Okolot

Anna Okolot – Graduate Assistant for Student Activities
Bachelor of Science, Marketing with a Minor in Graphic Design – Upper Iowa University; Master of Business Administration (In Progress) – Upper Iowa University

Anna is originally from Odessa, Ukraine and is a Graduate Assistant for Student Activities. She loves socializing and connecting with people which works well with her position. Her favorite part of the job is seeing students/community every day and having the ability to help them with their requests. Outside of the office she loves to spend time with friends, go to the gym and watch TV. Her goal for the next two years is to read more books as it helps to expand knowledge and imagination. Also, one of her favorite things to do is eat.

 Nate Post

Nate Post, Residence Area Coordinator 
Bachelor of Arts, Criminal Justice – University of Dubuque

Nate Post is the Residence Area Coordinator for Garbee Hall. Nate graduated from the University of Dubuque with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. Nate supervises the RA staff in Garbee Hall and Hofmaster. Nate enlisted in the Iowa National Guard at 17 and served over eight years. Recently discharged from the National Guard, Nate is excited to serve the residents and students of Upper Iowa University. Nate is originally from Fayette, Iowa and is very excited to work in his home town.

 Kelsey Saddoris

Kelsey Saddoris, Part-time Counselor
Bachelor of Social Work – University of Northern Iowa; Master of Social Work – Mount Mercy University

Kelsey most recently served as a school-based therapist at Tanager Place. An Alburnett, Iowa native, Kelsey enjoys traveling, reading, watching Netflix, and spending time with her family, fiancé and dogs. Her favorite book is “Moloka’I” and her favorite movie is “Life is Beautiful.”

 Bethany Stock

Bethany Stock – Graduate Assistant for Student Activities
Bachelor of Science, Business Administration with a Minor in Communications – Upper Iowa University; Masters of Business Administration (In Progress) – Upper Iowa University

Bethany works in the Office of Student Activities planning events and advising Student Government and Peacocks for Progress. Bethany’s hometown is Waukon, Iowa and she joined the Peacock family in 2016 when she graduated high school. Fayette is now her home away from home. Bethany’s favorite Upper Iowa events are Orientation Days and the Peacock Experience because she gets to interact with the new freshman and their families. In her free time Bethany enjoys spending time with her family and friends, watching movies, and coloring!

 Cameron Vinsand

Cameron Vinsand – Graduate Assistant for Disability Services
Bachelor of Science, Business Administration – Upper Iowa University; Master of Business Administration (In Progress) – Upper Iowa University; Pastoral Degree (In Progress) – Global University

As Graduate Assistant of Disability Services, Cameron ensures that all procedures and duties are being followed in accordance to the Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable regulations.  Having worked over year and a half as an assistant, Cameron has been committed to helping students achieve their dreams and goals for years having lead and been a part of many college ministries and student organizations.  He is currently getting his Master’s in Business Administration at Upper Iowa University and a pastoral degree online at Global University.  Cameron’s aspirations are to be a business owner as well as do missionary work after college.  On his free time, Cameron enjoys spending time with his fiancée, weightlifting, and playing sports.  

 Kellie Walker

Kellie Walker – Director of Disability Services

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology – Evangel University; Master of Education (Special Education) – Bethel University; Post-Graduate Certificate of Autism Spectrum Disorders – Bethel University; Special Education Consultant Certification – Morningside College Certifications: State of Iowa Master Educator License: K-12 Instructional Strategist EBD/LD, Special Education Consultant; Professional Associate of ADA Coordinators status through the National Association of ADA Coordinators (NADAC); Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID)

As Director of Disabilities Services, Kellie ensures that all college programs and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities by substantiating and coordinating requests for disability accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and any other applicable regulations. Kellie has had more than 20 years of special education teaching at all grade levels. Supporting families through behavioral consulting is something that has occupied much of her time over the years. Kellie enjoys partnering with students and their families to facilitate a rewarding and successful university experience. She has an interest in working with international students and has presented seminars on Autism Spectrum Disorder in Indonesia. Kellie and her husband Andrew spend most of their free time enjoying their six children and three grandchildren.