New Missouri Western President Matthew J. Wilson recently announced various leadership changes to the university. Chief among them was the addition of Sarah Cravens as Missouri Western’s vice president of strategic initiatives and chief of staff.
Cravens will be transferring to St. Joseph from the University of Akron, where she worked closely with Wilson in a number of roles, including vice provost for strategic initiatives, interim dean of the Williams Honors College and the interim dean of the School of Law, among other responsibilities.
Cravens remembers being inspired by Wilson’s leadership when he came to Akron as the new dean of the university’s law school.
“I had never had any interest in administration before then, and I walked into his office at one point in that year and said, ‘Hey, if you ever need anybody to pitch in here and help out, let me know.’ And he got a big smile on his face and said, ‘Well it’s a good thing that you said that, because I was going to ask you,’” Cravens said.
She would take on such roles as the assistant dean for global engagement, director of faculty research and development. She and Wilson also ran the study abroad programs in South Korea and Japan as well.
Upon hearing of Wilson’s new role of president of Missouri Western, Cravens said she wasn’t necessarily surprised.
“I always knew that he was going to end up president somewhere else. His leadership is too great to be wasted,” she said of Wilson. “And those words around the Missouri Western crest fit him well — words like courage and respect. They’re so perfect for him. I thought, ‘You know what? That’s going to be a great match.’”
She also had a feeling that Wilson might call upon her to take on the chief of staff responsibility and is delighted that she will get to work with him again.
Cravens said she’s been talking with colleagues in similar chief of staff positions about what she can expect, though she is ready for the challenge, stating that she’ll work with the president to capitalize on his vision for Missouri Western.
“I’ve really learned how to wear a lot of hats at the same time. In 2017-2018, I actually had three job titles and three offices on campus at the University of Akron. I was simultaneously vice provost for strategic initiatives, interim dean of the Williams Honors College and a faculty member in the law school. I really was wearing all of those hats,” she said. “And I think engaging with lots of people across campus and the community is not only what keeps me going and keeps me engaged and happy, but it’s also what keeps the university thriving.”
Cravens will start at Missouri Western in mid-September and hopes to continue teaching opportunities in a more intensive format once she arrives, be it through the study abroad program or other ventures.
“It’s very important to me to get to continue to be in the classroom in one format or another, because it makes you a better administrator if you maintain that proximity to the students.”