(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)— Missouri Western State University introduced its fifth president in school history Monday.
The Missouri Western State University Board of Governors voted 5-0 in favor of Matthew Wilson becoming the next president at the university.
When Wilson made his case to be the university's next president, officials knew they were getting two things—a passion for community and education.
Wilson made a splash even before being introduced to the community Monday.
On Saturday, after landing in Kansas City and driving up to St. Joseph, Wilson and his wife, Noriko, helped out the St. Joseph community with sandbagging efforts ahead of potential Missouri River flood.
"I was just really, really impressed that he did that," Board of Governors Chair David Liechti said. "...I knew he wanted to get involved in the community. I just had no idea he would do it that soon."
Missouri Western introduced Wilson as the next school president Monday afternoon in front of community and university leaders and immediately, Wilson made his passion for community and education known.
"It's a wonderful place and I think that the university has a lot of potential with where it has come to go even further than that," Wilson said.
Wilson comes to St. Joseph from the University of Akron, where he is a professor of Law after serving as the president of the University for two years. During his two years as president, Wilson helped lead Akron in a two-year budget turnaround, eliminating a projected $30 million dollar deficit and adding $12 million in reserves, while participating in fundraising efforts bringing in $20 million.
"Knowing that he can fundraise and knows how to work with budgets and get community buy-ins and partnerships with the community, and businesses, that's really big," Liechti said.
Wilson made it clear to those in attendance Monday—he's not a president who will just sit in his office, he's going to be out front helping the students.
"I'm someone that's going to be helping them move into dorms, someone who is going to be there late at night in the library answering their questions," Wilson said.
Wilson's goals won't stop with the current group of Missouri Western students—he wants to bridge the gap with local school districts.
"Talking to them about what we might be able to do to foster students success at an even earlier age to help people be able to obtain that college degree at an affordable price," Wilson said.
It's also about bringing local businesses, schools, and the community together to help bridge Missouri Western and St. Joseph for years to come.
"I hope that we can move with the speed of an eagle and the strength of a lion," Wilson said. "Go Griffs and thank you."
Wilson will become Missouri Western president on July 1. He is taking over for the retiring Dr. Robert Vartabedian.