Director of External Relations positon vaccant after Shields leaves to work for U.S. Senator


After three years as director of external relations, Brandt Shields has chosen to end his tenure at Missouri Western State University and take a position as the Kansas City District Director for U.S. Senator Roy Blunt.

The St. Joseph native spoke in one of his first interviews as a member of the Western faculty back in 2015 about how much of an honor it was to return to and represent his hometown.

“Growing up in St. Joseph, I witnessed first-hand the impact Missouri Western has on our region. I am honored to have the opportunity to return to my hometown and be part of the team helping to shape the future of this great university,” Shields said.

Shields relished the opportunity given to him and delivered on his words, helping the future of the university in a multitude of ways. Throughout his tenure, Shields spent a lot of time in Jefferson City advocating legislative priorities for the university. Priorities that included funding for Potter Hall, a revised plan for state retirement for faculty and staff members and many more accomplishments.

Shields’ impact on the university will definitely be missed and  Dr. Robert Vartabedian, Missouri Western’s president echoed that same statement in a recent interview.

“It’s a big loss. Brandt is a very talented young man, and for him to have the opportunity to work for the United States senator is a no brainier,” Vartabedian said. “I congratulated him and told him I understand that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I am very proud of him. He did a great job for us, and I know he’ll do a great job for the senator.”

The search for a replacement for the vacant position is already underway and the goal is to fill the position as soon as possible says Executive Associate to the President Kimberly Sigrist.

The final decision will be made by a collection of faculty members including; Dr. Vartabedian, Kim Sigrist, Vice President for Academic Affairs Douglas Davenport and Vice President for University Advancement & Executive Director for the MWSU Foundation Jerry Pickman.

The group understands that this position is going to be tough to replace; however, they recognize the characteristics that they are looking for.

“We’re looking for someone who is comfortable in Jefferson City rubbing elbows with members of the general assembly and their staff and someone who has quite a bit of political savvy, especially at the state level,” Vartabedian said. “However, you have the other half of the job when you’re on campus which consists of coordinating things on campus and dealing with locals issues.”

Sounds like the search for the next director of external relations will be a difficult one; however, the administration group is determined to handle this situation with care and urgency.