noriko and matthew wilsonJuly 1, 2019— Missouri Western State University today welcomes the fifth president in its 50-year history as a four-year institution. Matthew J. Wilson, J.D., succeeds Dr. Robert Vartabedian, who retired June 30 after 11 years as Missouri Western’s president.

In a first-day message to students, President Wilson pledged that Missouri Western faculty, staff, alumni and supporters will work together to prepare students for success.

“As your President, my primary mission is to ensure that you receive the best experience possible that will springboard you to a successful future,” Wilson wrote to students. “We have invested in your success and want to see you graduate and achieve your dreams. When I was named president a few months ago, I received a constant stream of positive messages from members of the Missouri Western family and our local community. They really want our University to succeed. Even more significantly, they want to work together with you to help you succeed.”

President Wilson served as president of the University of Akron from 2016 to 2018, where he helped lead a remarkable two-year budgetary turnaround while implementing innovative approaches to student recruitment, retention and internationalization. Previously, he served as dean of the University of Akron School of Law, associate dean of the University of Wyoming College of Law and senior associate dean and general counsel of Temple University Japan, teaching a wide variety of law classes at all three schools. He’s excited to be joining the student-centered, applied learning community at Missouri Western.

“Thank you to those who have enthusiastically greeted me in person or sent kind messages of support since my appointment as president,” President Wilson said. “I have been amazed at the outpouring of support and offers of assistance. I am humbled by the opportunity to lead Missouri Western during this exciting time in its history. In addition, I want to thank everyone for their commitment to the University. The love and loyalty that you have for this important institution is evident.”

Wilson and his wife, Noriko, have four children and four grandchildren.

Missouri Western State University is a comprehensive regional university providing a blend of traditional liberal arts and professional degree programs. The university offers student-centered, high quality instruction that focuses on experience-based learning, community service, and state-of-the-art technology. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit