President Robert Vartabedian to retire after 11 years

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Missouri Western President Robert Vartabedian announced his plans to retire to the Board of Governors, effective July 1, 2019.

Vartabedian is entering his eleventh year as Western’s president making him the longest tenured president currently serving at a Missouri public university.

“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity that this university has given me to have this presidency as a capstone experience of my career,” Vartabedian said. “I enjoyed it tremendously. By far the best job I’ve had in my 40 year career.”

Board of Governors chairman Dave Liechti says that Vartabedian has advanced both Western’s campus and its relationships with the community.

“I think that if you look back at what Dr. Vartabedian has done, both in campus improvements, relationships with the community, the growth of the university as a player in the community, I think it’s all going to be very positive,” Liechti said.

Vartabedian says that he is most proud of the 100 percent successful accreditation outcomes that the university has had during his time at Western.

“This is my sixth or seventh university and that hasn’t happened anywhere else I have been,” Vartabedian said. “That I think a real positive statement about the entire university.”

“We do a lot for a lot of people, but the most important thing we do is give our students a first-class education,” Vartabedian said. “When you have a positive accreditation outcome, that is certainly symbolic of a first-class education.”

Former Provost Jeanne Daffron, who worked with Vartabedian from the time that he was hired in 2008 and as provost from 2009 until her retirement in the spring of 2018, says that he has positioned Western well for the future.

“Those of us who have had the good fortune to work with President Vartabedian know that he has worked tirelessly in support of our university for the past decade and also know that he will forever be a Griffon,” Daffron said.

During Vartabedian’s presidency Western has hosted training camp for the Kansas City Chiefs since 2010, undertaken nine major construction projects, created the Walter Cronkite Memorial and expanded the program catalog of the university including the Entrepreneurship Program within the Craig School of Business, added two new academic schools (the School of Fine Arts and the School of Nursing and Health Professions) as well as added additional master’s programs.

Vartabedian says that he feels disingenuous in claiming credit for the changes.

“The real work has not been done by me,” Vartabedian said. “The real work has been done by the faculty, staff and students of the university.”

Liechti says that no part of the search process is finalized, but that the Board is looking to begin its search after Labor Day.

“We consider this the most important job we have — hiring the next president,” Liechti said.

Vartabedian says that he plans to spend time with his family in Texas and California.

“When you’re a university president, particularly for 11 years, it’s hard to spend a lot of time with family,” Vartabedian said.

This year Vartabedian says he plans to focus on completing the Centennial Capital Campaign, a series of changes started in 2015 to celebrate Western’s centennial, as well as continue to pursue land development and a building for the Craig School of Business.