Ben Caldwell is stepping down from his two dean positions on campus to take another position at Radford University.
Caldwell has been at Western for 21 years and has worked his way from assistant professor to the dean of the Graduate School and the College of Professional Studies.
Caldwell will be working as the dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research at Radford University in Radford, Virginia, starting July 1.
The new position came at a time that worked well for Caldwell’s family, and since he has friends and family in Virginia, it was an opportunity he said he couldn’t pass up.
“I have to say that I wasn’t originally thinking to move. It was just something that kind of happened at the right time. Everything really came together, and it was just something I really couldn’t pass up,” Caldwell said.
Since working at Western, Caldwell has helped create and run various events throughout his Western career, including Super Science Saturday, Summer Research Institute and various graduate programs.
When Caldwell was an assistant professor, he was asked to be the director of a former Western program called the Summer Research Institute. The program brought many high school seniors to campus and got the community more involved in the sciences.
“We went out and actually recruited high school students to take part in the research experiences during the summer, and so, that was really exciting because we were getting high school students coming onto campus, working with faculty and students, and honestly, it was a recruiting effort,” Caldwell said.
“We had about 40 percent of those summer research institute students end up enrolling as freshman, and that was a really fun experience. It helped out the university. It helped out faculty, and it helped out students. It was just an all around wonderful experience.”
Provost Doug Davenport said that he anticipates Caldwell will do well in his new role based on the type of work he has done since he started in 1998.
“Ben Caldwell is stepping into a new role that will have lots of challenges, but I know he is capable, and I expect him to be very successful because he has an over 20-year track record here at Missouri Western that demonstrates that,” Davenport said.
Davenport said it will be difficult to find someone who could take on Caldwell’s positions at Western because of his work ethic.
“I think we caught lightning in a bottle with Ben Caldwell in that he was serving full-time as the dean of the graduate school, and then we asked him to also take on essentially another full-time job,” Davenport said.
The announcement of Caldwell’s leaving happened the Thursday before winter break, but he told his colleagues in the chemistry department beforehand because of a bond they have.
“I did talk to the department chairs for professional studies and let them know what was happening,” Caldwell said. “I talked to my friends, my colleagues over in the department of chemistry because I didn’t want them finding out through an email or Facebook or anything like that. I wanted to let them know personally because that really is kind of my academic home. I was there for 17 years as a faculty member, and so really, they’re the people I’m closest to on campus.
Caldwell said one of the most difficult parts of leaving Western is saying goodbye to the friends he’s made in the Chemistry department, at church and all across St. Joseph.
“There’s so many things that I have to be thankful for. I have to thank this family here for giving me the opportunities that I’ve had,” Caldwell said.
While Caldwell will be leaving sometime in June, he still has some big plans for the graduate school this semester.
“We’re working on a new admissions system for the graduate school and hope to have that up sometime in the next six months,” Caldwell said.
“I don’t want to leave it half-finished. I don’t want to leave anything we’re working on in a state where it’s a mystery for whoever comes in. It’s kind of like the Boy Scout motto, ‘Leave things in a better state than you found it’ and that’s the way I like to think of it.”