Rebecca Chidester will be College of Eastern Idaho’s first mental health director, College of Eastern Idaho Dean of Students Mike Walker said Wednesday.
Chidester, who is a college and career adviser at Emerson High School, is expected to start the role June 17. The position will be full-time, she said.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” Chidester said. “It’s my way to give back for all the opportunities I’ve received at community college. Mental health is at the core of who we are. It’s the lynchpin that holds all the facets of our humanity together.”
Chidester will coordinate all of College of Eastern Idaho’s mental health services, including counseling, suicide prevention and helping students manage short-term stress.
Her contract is still being finalized, CEI Executive Director of Human Resources Mary Taylor said. The is range for the contract is $55,000 to $60,000.
“Of the national search we did, she was the top candidate,” Walker said. “She has the perfect temperament, personality and experience for the position. It’s to help address an increased need for our increased enrollment in that field.”
“She’s been in tough situations in previous roles and has worked with us on a variety of issues in the past,” Walker said.
Chidester, a licensed clinical professional counselor, also works as Idaho Falls School District 91’s Safe Schools Coordinator.
She previously worked as a school counselor for North Gem School District 149 as well as a career and academic adviser at Brigham Young University-Idaho, Walker said. She said she found her passion for the mental health field as a counseling intern at Idaho State University.
She received her master’s in counseling at Idaho State University. She received her second master’s in adult education from the University of Phoenix.
Idaho Falls District 91 superintendent George Boland said Chidester helped create and coordinate the district’s emergency operations plan and standard operating procedures.
Chidester looks forward to the new challenge.
“It feels like a good idea and a good place to (start) and help in the mental health field,” Chidester said.