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Dr. Elizabeth KennedyElizabeth Kennedy Portrait

Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy was named Missouri Western State University’s sixth president on Feb. 25, 2021.

As president, she has directed the launching of several initiatives, the Master Academic Plan, and the Griffon Office of Applied Learning, and expanded others, including Gold Fridays and the Center for Service. Under Dr. Kennedy’s leadership, Missouri Western has developed several new, in-demand programs including bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity and respiratory therapy and a master of arts degree in teaching/secondary education. She has fostered the development of key partnerships between Missouri Western, the St. Joseph School District, North Central Missouri College, and many local businesses, industries, and agencies. 

Dr. Kennedy was appointed to the Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education’s advisory group in 2021 and was selected as the vice-chair of the Council on Public Higher Education in Missouri in 2022. She serves on several boards of directors, including the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, the St. Joseph Community Alliance, Innovation Stockyard, the Hillyard Technical Center Advisory Council Executive Board, and Mosaic Life Care Foundation, as well as the Imagine St. Joseph 2040 Implementation Review Team, the MIAA CEO Council and as co-chair of the MIAA Constitution Task Force.

In her tenure at the University, Dr. Kennedy has demonstrated a keen ability to connect with faculty, staff, and students and is deeply committed to the mission of Missouri Western for our campus, our community and our region.

Dr. Kennedy grew up in Kansas City, graduated from Ruskin High School and has family in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas. Dr. Kennedy holds a PhD in Psychology – Applied Cognitive Aging and Certification in Thanatology – Death, Dying, and Bereavement from the Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC). She also served as a Bereavement Specialist for the Hospice of Medina/Summit Counties in Northeast Ohio for nearly 12 years. Her 26-year career in higher education has included multiple roles in upper administration as well as 17 years in the classroom as a Professor of Social Science.

Dr. Kennedy has made the City of Saint Joseph her home and is engaged in many aspects of the Saint Joseph community.