After dedicating 11 years of his educational career to Missouri Western, Dr. Robert Vartabedian has announced that he will be stepping down from his presidential role after the 2018-2019 school year. Vartabedian started his career in education 40+ years ago and has decided that he wants it to end at Missouri Western.
“You kind of work your entire life to get to a position like this, and it’s tough letting go, and I know I need to let go,” Vartabedian said. “I’m certainly in retirement age, so yeah, it’s not been easy. There were a few emotional days for me when I first made the announcement, but it’s time.”
Vartabedian says he has accomplished many of his goals during his time here. The Chiefs training camp that takes place every year was started nearly a decade ago by Dr. Vartabedian. He also has dedicated a large portion of time helping to build the Walter Cronkite Memorial. Additionally, he’s added the School of Fine Arts and the School of Nursing and Health Professions to the university. He’s helped remodel Spratt Stadium and added an additional master’s program. The additional space being added to the Leah Spratt Hall is another project that he is also currently leading.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who loves to work and loves what he does as much as Dr. Vartabedian does,” Executive Associate to the President Kim Sigrist said. “He really does deeply care about the students and the university, and he’s always been very willing to hear a student, listen to a student, be at events to support and cheer on the students. You won’t find a bigger cheerleader for our students than Dr. Vartabedian.”
Vartabedian says the most gratifying part of his career was seeing students’ lives being transformed by getting their college degree. He also says he’s very proud of the 100 percent successful accreditation reports that the school has received over the past several years.
“What he’s done is create the environment here for people to be successful,” Dr. Paul Orscheln said. “Whether he realizes he’s doing it or not, I think anything that’s happened on this campus, he probably deserves a lot of credit for. Whether he’s the person physically doing it or not, he’s open the door for so many projects to be done.”
“The university has probably changed my life more than I’ve changed the university just by hearing the stories of the people who have turned their life around through higher education, and this university gives people that chance,” Vartabedian said.
After he steps down, Vartabedian hopes to be able to spend time with his family by doing a little bit of traveling and getting to know his grandkids better. He also hopes that the projects he’s worked on over his term will continue on after he leaves.
“He’ll be tough to replace, tough shoes to fill. He’s definitely left a legacy on this campus that’ll be tough for anybody to step in and fill,” Orscheln said. “The passion he has for this place is unmatched by anyone else. He truly bleeds the black and gold of Missouri Western.”