Kristin Sobolik appointed 8th chancellor of the University of Missouri–St. Louis
University of Missouri System President Mun Choi and the Board of Curators named Kristin Sobolik the new chancellor of the University of Missouri–St. Louis on Thursday. (Photo by August Jennewein)
In three years, Interim Chancellor and Provost Kristin Sobolik has had an outsized impact on the University of Missouri–St. Louis as an agent of positive change and growth – overseeing and implementing key initiatives that have strengthened the university and expanded its reach across the United States and internationally.
Now she will lead on an even larger scale – as chancellor.
University of Missouri System President Mun Choi and the Board of Curators appointed Sobolik to the top post on Thursday, making her the eighth permanent chancellor in UMSL’s history. She has been serving as interim chancellor since Sept. 1, when Chancellor Emeritus Tom George retired after 16 years leading the institution.
“Following a national search, Kristin Sobolik clearly rose to the top, and we are excited that she will continue to lead UMSL,” Choi said. “Dr. Sobolik has a track record of supporting student success, growing research and building connections with St. Louis leaders and alumni. I am confident that she is the right leader for UMSL during this critical time.”
George hired Sobolik in May 2017 as provost and added executive vice chancellor to her title one year later. She has demonstrated unparalleled energy and enthusiasm for UMSL while working to advance the university, providing opportunities for students to fulfill their aspirations and solidifying the university’s crucial role in St. Louis and beyond. During her time as provost, UMSL launched multiple new academic programs, including recent new degrees in cybersecurity, sport management and organization leadership, and has worked to broaden its international reach through partnerships and recruiting under UMSL Global.
“My driving passion to serve our students started three years ago when I fell in love with UMSL on my very first visit,” Sobolik said. “With each passing day, my commitment has grown to help these students succeed to graduation and design a better life for themselves and their families. I am so honored to lead this wonderful, dynamic institution that plays a crucial role in the St. Louis region.”
Notably, Sobolik led the development of UMSL’s five-year strategic plan in 2018 and, around the same time, helped shepherd the process for renewal of the university’s accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
The strategic plan centers around the mission “We Transform Lives” and includes goals for enrollment, student success and research as well as a focus on community engagement and economic development.
The HLC reaccreditation was a year and a half process, and Sobolik oversaw the development of the Assurance of Learning document that served as the basis from which UMSL made its case. In January 2019, the commission reaffirmed UMSL’s accreditation for 10 years without the need for any follow-up evaluations.
Throughout her time at UMSL, Sobolik has been consistently focused on providing students with every opportunity for success, spearheading the creation of the Student Academic Support Services unit to support student learning and the creation of a new role, associate provost for student success, that is solely focused on student success.
Sobolik also launched the Curriculum Alignment Plan in April 2018 with the goal of streamlining degree pathways by providing students with a clear map to graduation with the least amount of debt possible.
Strengthening faculty throughout their career lifecycles has been another one of her priorities. In the past year, she has fostered efforts such as the Women’s Faculty Network, Associate-to-Full, the Mid-Career Research Investment and others. Notably, research expenditures have increased 55 percent since her appointment as provost.
Both at UMSL and in previous positions as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Wright State University and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Maine, Sobolik has proven herself as an effective advocate with alumni, donors and legislators.
Additional highlights of her tenure at UMSL include establishing the Community Innovation and Action Center, engaging UMSL’s executive leadership team in the USC Equity Institute and building ties to the local business community.
“I’ve seen the energy Kristin has brought to the University of Missouri–St. Louis since 2017 and the work she’s put in to ensure the university continues its mission to provide a first-rate education to students, no matter their background,” said George Paz, retired chairman and CEO of Express Scripts and president of the UMSL Chancellor’s Council. “I too admire her vision to look beyond the campus and find ways that UMSL can impact the greater St. Louis region through its scholarship and economic development initiatives.”
Sobolik began her academic career as an assistant professor at Maine after earning her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree and doctorate in anthropology from Texas A&M University. She became a full professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at Maine in 2006 and associate dean five years later before moving to Wright State in 2013.
As a nationally recognized scholar and professor who helped develop the fields of archaeobiology and paleonutrition, Sobolik has more than 100 scientific publications, books and presentations.
“Kristin Sobolik has distinguished herself as an educator, researcher, dean, provost and interim chancellor,” Tom George said. “I can think of no one better equipped or prepared to the lead the University of Missouri–St. Louis – one of the nation’s elite public metropolitan universities. This is an excellent choice for St. Louis and for Missouri.”