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Staff Council
The University of Mississippi

Officers – 2019-2021

Officer Bios:

Jason Shirkey , President

Jason Shirkey serves as UM Staff Council President.  As president, he serves as the representative of staff members for all campus locations. He is responsible for leading discussions and highlighting staff concerns with Staff Council members and the Chancellor. He organizes all staff council committees , events, and acts as the official spokesman for the council. He also serves on various Chancellor Standing Committees. In addition, he presides over all meetings and attends monthly meetings with the Chancellor.

Jason was born and raised an Indiana Hoosier! He attended Indiana University before his path directed him south to Ole Miss for graduate school. He received a B.S. in Sport Management from Indiana University and his Masters degree here at Ole Miss. Jason enjoys working with students and helping them with their personal leadership journey as well as serving the university community as part of Staff Council. When not at work, Jason can be found at FNC Park coaching soccer, travel baseball, flag football, basketball and any other activity his two kids enjoy.  He and his wife Amy enjoy spending time with family and friends, serving at First Baptist church, and attending Ole Miss sporting events!

Deetra Wiley. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss CommunicationsDeetra A. Sims -Wiley, Vice President  

Deetra Sims-Wiley serves as the vice president of Staff Council & executes the duties of the president in the president’s absence, works with the secretary on maintaining a record of absences, contacts members who violate the absence policy to ask if they want to continue as a staff council member, arranges for replacement of representatives as necessary, coordinates Staff Appreciation Week by serving on the Staff Appreciation Committee, & attends monthly meetings with the Chancellor.

Wiley has served the University of Mississippi since May 1999. She serves as an applications analyst and business communications specialist in the Office of Information Technology. Her duties include teaching SAP training classes and assigning related authorizations, editing language for technical projects, writing technical articles/requested proposals, testing projects, providing latest language updates, etc. Other duties include but are not limited to managing of the SAP Support website, coordinating IT related events, marketing/advertising, etc.

Deetra received her Bachelor of Arts in English (1992), Master of Arts in English (1997), Master of Arts in Higher Education (2012) and Doctor of Education in Higher Education (2018) from the University of Mississippi. She also holds an Associate of Arts in English/Communication from Coahoma Community College (1991). Her Motto is “Believe, Begin, Become!” Some of her hobbies include acting, motivational speaking, socializing.

She is married to Rev. Derell A. Wiley, Pastor of Sykes Chapel Church in Lambert, MS. They have 3 children: Nya, Tyler, and Amber.

LeTosha James, Secretary  

LeTosha James serves as Staff Council secretary.  Her duties include preparing, organizing and supervising the distribution of minutes from each Council meeting; maintaining official written records of Council meetings; assisting in the preparation and distribution of correspondence and other Council business to representatives and staff members; maintaining membership records; booking meeting space and coordinating speakers for Council meetings; and attending monthly meetings with the Executive Council and the Chancellor.

LeTosha joined the University in 2013 and serves as Administrative Assistant for the Department of Naval Science. Her responsibilities include providing support to faculty and staff, assisting with department budgets, assist personnel with purchasing, and coordinating day to day operations.

LeTosha has a bachelors degree in Multi-Disciplinary Studies. She is currently attending the University of Mississippi, pursuing a master’s degree in Higher Education. She is married to Manuel James and they have two children, Xavier & DJ.

Danielle Noonan, Treasurer 

Danielle Noonan serves as Staff Council treasurer. Her duties include managing the finances and financial records of the Staff Council to ensure compliance with applicable regulations, maintains and presents monthly treasurer’s reports to the Staff Council to ensure accurate financial statements are maintained, processes Council invoices for payment, assists the textbook scholarship administrator in managing finances, & attends monthly meetings with the Chancellor.

Danielle joined the university in 2015 as a staff assistant in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences, School of Pharmacy. Her responsibilities include providing support to faculty and staff, assisting with departmental budgets, assists personnel with purchasing, coordinating day-to-day operations and maintaining the various department websites.

She is married to Dr. Brice Noonan, Associate Professor of Biology. They have 2 children: Alivia and Caden.

Photo by Kevin Bain.Premalatha Balachandran, Scholarship Manager

Dr. Premalataha Balachandran oversees Staff Council’s Staff Textbook scholarship program. She announces scholarship application deadlines for each semester, processes and evaluates all the applications for eligibility and sends award mail to the recipients. She also coordinates with the Ole Miss Bookstore, issuing vouchers, with Contractual Services handling payments to the bookstore and also with the Office of Financial Aid. In addition, the administrator maintains a database of applicants and complete records of accounts to comply with the University Auditors office. She attends monthly meetings with the Chancellor.

Premalatha has served at National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR), School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi for 14 years. She joined NCNPR as a Post-doc in 2002. In 2005, she was appointed as an Associate Research Scientist and was promoted to the current position of Senior Scientist in 2015.

As a Senior Scientist, Premalatha’s research interests include, discovering of new active drugs from the plants that contribute to human health benefits, especially those that exhibit anti-cancer and immune enhancing properties. In partnership with UMMC-Cancer Institute at Jackson, MS, she searches for more effective approaches in cancer therapy that will include both modern medical practices in addition to traditional medicine from various countries. One of the main focuses of her research deals with the development of new molecular biological screens that target signal transduction pathways known to be involved in the expression of cancer. In overall, her research contributes to the efforts of fighting against life-threatening cancers.

Premalatha has authored approximately 30 publications that include research and review articles in high impact journals and also book chapters. She also serves as a reviewer for many journals.

Premalatha received a Bachelors of Science degree in Chemistry and a Master of Science in Medical Biochemistry from University of Madras, Chennai, India. She also obtained Ph.D in Medical Biochemistry from the same university.

She is married to Karthikeyan Rathinavelu, Owner and President of Thik and Thin Constructions LLC., They have 2 children, Keerthin and Sagan.

Emily Echols, Marketing Manager 

Emily Echols serves as the conduit between the UM Staff Council and UM staff to report events via website and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Staff Council website, UM Today, etc.). Her responsibilities include managing the social media elements to promote staff awareness and foster interaction, education, engagement, and discussion regarding policies and issues significant to constituents through the use of online communities. She attends monthly meetings with the Chancellor.

Emily joined the University staff in 2000 and serves as Executive Assistant/Office Manager for Alumni Affairs.  Her responsibilities include serving as liaison for the Executive Director; assisting in the daily management and operation of the department; maintaining the department’s personnel records; organizing Alumni Association board meetings; and planning various Alumni programs and events.  She also serves and an instructor for EDHE 305, the Transfer Student Experience.

A graduate of Ole Miss, Emily completed her B.A. degree in Sociology in 2013 and her M.A. in Higher Education/Student Personnel in 2017.  She is an active member of Freedom Place in Water Valley, Mississippi.  She is married to Jeff Echols, Shift Captain at the Lafayette County Detention Center, and together they have seven children: Sasha, Rebecca, Katie, Patrick, Aurora, Hayden, and Colin.