Elizabeth Kennedy

Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy

July 10, 2020–Missouri Western’s Board of Governors announced today that Missouri native Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy will serve as interim president of the university beginning in August.

Dr. Kennedy is currently Missouri Western’s vice provost after being selected through a nationwide search. In that role, she has focused on a number of elements of Missouri Western’s strategic plan, Pathways to Excellence, including strengthening student success, creating new partnerships and expanding applied learning.

“Elizabeth has shown great leadership and initiative in the brief time that she has served as our vice provost,” said Lee Tieman, chair of the Board of Governors. “Her commitment to our community and to the success of our students will be cornerstones of her tenure. We are excited to have Dr. Kennedy as our interim president and very much appreciate her willingness to step up and continue to guide the university forward.”

“I am honored and humbled to be able to serve in this role and to be a part of an institution that makes such a difference in the lives of our students,” Dr. Kennedy said. “I am deeply committed to Missouri Western’s mission of student-centered success. Together with the campus community and our supporters, alums and community leaders, we will continue to serve our students and the greater community.”

Before coming to Missouri Western, Dr. Kennedy was dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology and interim dean of the College of Health Professions at the University of Akron. She had been at the University of Akron since 1997, beginning as an assistant professor of social science. Her administrative experience began as a department chair in 2002. She became associate dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology in 2014, becoming dean in 2016. In that role, she established several key partnerships with industry and other educational institutions. She added leadership of the College of Health Professions in 2017.

Dr. Kennedy grew up in Kansas City, graduated from Ruskin High School and has family in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Master of Arts in Psychology, Graduate Certificate in Gerontology and Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, Applied Cognitive Aging, all from the University of Akron.

A key component in the transition will be Dr. Josh Looney, vice president of intercollegiate athletics. During this interim period, Dr. Looney will take on an expanded leadership role with Missouri Western’s external relations and advancement efforts.

The Board of Governors will announce details on the search for a permanent president at a later date.

“Right now, we are focused 100% on ensuring a seamless transition so we can kick off the new school year the right way, the Griffon way, which is to make our students’ collegiate experience as meaningful and enjoyable as possible,” Tieman said.

President Matt Wilson announced July 8 that he is stepping down to become the next dean of Temple University’s 3,000-student campus in Japan. President Wilson will assist with efforts to ensure a smooth transition of leadership and start of the fall semester. 

Missouri Western State University is a student-centered learning community preparing individuals for lives of excellence through applied learning. 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 www.missouriwestern.edu.