Denise Balfour Simpson (HIED Ph.D. ’13) named Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students


Denise Balfour Simpson has been named associate vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students at UNC Charlotte following a national search. Her appointment is effective July 29, 2024. She currently serves as associate dean of students in the Division of Student Life at Davidson College.

At Charlotte, Simpson will provide visionary, strategic, and operational leadership within the Division of Student Affairs and the University to ensure students have access to the necessary resources and support to succeed academically and personally. The position supervises two departments: Student Assistance and Support Services and Student Accountability and Conflict Resolution, and coordinates the division’s response to major crises and other events impacting students within the University community.

Key programs and initiatives associated with the position include the Jamil Niner Student Pantry, the Student Emergency Fund, the Student Emergency Housing Fund, Swipe Out Hunger, conflict resolution efforts and academic integrity processes. The role serves as a Deputy Title IX Coordinator and participates in the Demonstration Activity Resource Team.

In her current role at Davidson, Simpson provides strategic leadership to units focused on student accountability and conflict resolution, case management, disability resources and academic access, and residence life. She coordinates the Student Life’s response to student crises, chairs the Bias Response and Behavioral Intervention Teams, and led the introduction of restorative practices to their traditional student accountability processes. Her role at Davidson came after nearly 20 years of professional experience in student affairs and higher education that has taken her both across the country and internationally.

“Dean Simpson’s unique blend of experiences makes her the right candidate at the right time to help lead the division,” said Kevin W. Bailey, vice chancellor of student affairs. “We are impressed by her track record and passion for student advocacy, and we know she will be a tireless supporter for our students and their success.” 

Simpson credits her start in student affairs to being a resident assistant and student leader as an undergraduate at DePaul University. She says she is excited to join Charlotte, and hopes to share the same level of support and commitment that she received during her collegiate experience.

“As a first-generation college student, I had a tremendous fear of what the college experience would be like and how I would fit in,” Simpson said. “Having staff and faculty recognize both my struggles and potential gave me a voice, built my confidence, and helped me find my way. They modeled the guidance, support, and advocacy I now strive to emulate as a student affairs professional. I’m honored by and excited to join Niner Nation, and I hope to inspire for others what has been cultivated in me.”

Simpson began her professional career as hall director at Luther College before serving in several inaugural roles at Old Dominion University, the University of Kentucky, and Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province, China. She served as dean of students at the Charlotte campus of Johnson & Wales University from 2016-2018, while holding an adjunct teaching position in the Honors College at UNC Charlotte.

Simpson obtained her Doctor of Philosophy degree in higher education from Old Dominion, holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a bachelor’s in psychology and communication from DePaul. She is an active leader in the Association of Student Conduct Administration (ASCA) and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), where she serves on various committees – including as a faculty member for the ASCA Donald D. Gehring Academy — and regularly presents at annual national and international conferences. 

Simpson’s scholarly work has yielded several publications on restorative practices, campus leadership, supporting student conduct programs, and cultivating high-impact student engagement practices. She is also a volunteer mediator for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Center and is a trained restorative practices facilitator through the International Institute for Restorative Practices.