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

 Jake Bass' Picture

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

Jake Bass is pursuing his Master’s in Education.  He is a recent graduate from Upper Iowa University 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 and Fayette. Hobbies include music, movies, adventure and sports. His favorite sports include baseball and football, he is a fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Jake is the youngest of his family with only having one older sister. Jake is looking forward to continuing his peacock education and gaining helpful 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

Ismael joined the UIU staff in August of 2012. He brings more than 18 years of experience in domestic and international higher education, and provides leadership to Student Life as well as the Center for International Education, UIU Hong Kong, UIU Malaysia and UIU China Recruiting Office. He is also a member of various campus committees, including the President’s Council. Ismael is originally from Puerto Rico and currently resides in Fayette along with his daughter.

Jenn Biederman's Photo

Jennifer Biederman - Administrative Assistant for Student Life

Jenn Biederman started out as the Administrative Assistant for Career Development in 2002, and since then has moved from Office Assistant to Administrative Assistant for Student Life. 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. 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 also is an avid scrapbooker, cardmaker and has had several cards published.

Crystal Cole's Photo Crystal Cole - Director of Counseling and Wellness
Bachelor of Arts, Family Studies - University of Northern Iowa; Masters of Social Work - University of Northern Iowa; Masters 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, 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 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
Bachelors 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.  

 Roberto Mardonez Cruz's Photo

Roberto Mardones Cruz - Graduate Assistant for Student Activities
Bachelors of Arts, Sociology - Upper Iowa University; Masters of Business Administration (In Progress) - Upper Iowa University

Roberto Mardones Cruz graduated from Upper Iowa with a bachelor degree in sociology in 2016. He then came back to become the Graduate Assistant for Student Activities. On a day-to-day basis, he works with club and organizations making sure that students are getting as good of an experience as they possibly can. During his free time, he is an avid book reader, an intense movie watcher and loves spending times with family and friends.

 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. 

 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.

 Tonya Saddoris' Photo

Tonya Saddoris-Graduate Assistant for Student Activities
Bachelors of Science, Human Services and Psychology - Upper Iowa University; Masters of Education (In Progress) - Upper Iowa University

Tonya works in the Office of Student Activities planning events and advising the Peacock Entertainment Crew. She is a very spirited UIU alumni and loves being a part of the Peacock Family. She is originally from Alburnett, IA but finds Fayette to be her true home. Tonya’s favorite UIU event is Fear Factor, it is extremely gross, but incredibly entertaining.  

 Anthony Yates' Photo

Anthony Yates – Coordinator of Campus Recreation
Bachelors of Art – Greenville University; Masters of Sports Administration (In Progress) – Upper Iowa University

Anthony graduated from Greenville University in Illinois in 2015 with his Bachelors of Arts degree and is currently enrolled in the Masters of Sports Administration program here at Upper Iowa University. Anthonyis beginning his second year at Upper Iowa in the Rec Center and oversees many areas including Personal Training, Intramurals, and Club Sports. In his free time, Anthony works with the Women’s Track and Field team, enjoys fitness, and long, LONG walks on beach.