Former Director of the Simmons Center Vanessa Beckham (center left), says goodbye to Florida Southern College. (Photo courtesy of Kanesha Hicks)

Diego De Jesus | Oct. 28
News Editor

The Director of the Evett L. Simmons Center for Multicultural Appreciation, Vanessa Beckham, has suddenly resigned from her position serving her last day on Oct. 21.

Beckham headed the Simmons Center for one year, beginning her tenure at FSC the summer of 2021.

Beckham is a FSC alumni from 2009 who graduated with a major in Music Management and didn’t see herself working in schools initially, but she developed a passion for working in academic administration as time passed. 

“I moved down here all the way from Winsconsin. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to be that far away from family. So, I just wanted to be back up there, closer to them,” said Beckham. “It’s hard not to have the support you thought you had being so far away from home.” 

When Beckham was a student at FSC, she visited the Simmons Center frequently for the support system it provided, it was then called the Life and Cultural Center. That support system still exists for students now, according to Beckham. 

The Simmons Center is a home, where students from all backgrounds can relax and enjoy each other’s company alongside the staff that work there including students who work at the front desk for check-ins. 

It’s deeply-associated with all diversity organizations on campus and frequently hosts events in celebration of the cultures that each respective organization represents for the student body. In Beckham’s time as Director, this cultural representation for students has only grown. 

Southern Editor | The Southern Newspaper Students attend the Simmons Center’s Black History Month event last semester. (Photo Courtesy of the Simmons Multicultural Center).

Many of these students are associated with these programs, which is part of the Simmons Center’s purpose of creating an environment for diversity and inclusion for FSC’s student body including many international students. 

Beckham is the international student adviser, she’s the person who makes sure that her advisees are compliant with immigration and their visa statuses. She also helps them get social security cards if they decide to work on campus. 

It was a surprise for students who work and frequently visit the Simmons Center, and one that sparked much emotion from Beckham’s close connection with many of the frequent visitors that call the facility a home. 

“It’s been nothing but a joy because I love what we do, the type of work that we do and the ability to make connections to students,” Beckham said. “There’s not a whole lot of staff positions on campus that allow the freedom for you to be able to actually genuinely get to know students and be part of their lives.” 

Rachel Williams, Vice President of the Multicultural Student Council and Simmons Center staff member, commented on students’ reaction to Beckham’s resignation. 

“I was saddened by her resignation, but not surprised,” said Williams. “She dedicated so many hours inside and outside of the office helping the Simmons Center, the diversity organizations, and the international students. I’m sure it got overwhelming at times.” 

Many others were upset with Beckham’s resignation since she was a confiding figure to the Simmon Center’s frequent visitors, Williams being one of them. The Simmons Center was fashioned from a home, and it continues to welcome anyone of all backgrounds. 

According to Williams, Beckham spent much of her personal time individually making herself available for those who needed help. Beckham built many connections with the students who visited the Simmons Center. 

“As a POC on campus who is also involved in art and STEM, I struggled to find a community during my freshman year,” said Williams. “I was able to find a large Caribbean community through Simmons and even with those who aren’t Caribbean, we are able to talk and relate through our different lifestyles and experiences as students.” 

Beckham is proud of the growth that the Simmons Center has experienced since her time as a student but also as Director making the facility more of a home for more students. 

Her replacement has not been named.


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