MWSU says goodbye to Vartabedian

Dr. Robert Vartabedian, the president at Missouri Western for the past 11 years, will leave behind a long and lasting legacy.

Posted: Jun 18, 2019 10:47 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) --   It's the end of an era at Missouri Western State University with the retirement of its president, Dr. Robert Vartabedian. 

University staff, faculty and members of the community said goodbye and thank you to Vartabedian at a reception on campus Tuesday evening.

As only the fourth president in the past 50 years at MWSU, Vartabedian has a legacy that will last long after he is gone.

"He's put his heart and soul into the place," said David Leichti, current president of the MWSU Board of Governors.

"He's somebody who has left a legacy that will last well beyond his tenure here," said Josh Looney, MWSU athletic director.

During his 11 years as president Vartabedian over saw revolutionary changes. Shortly after his arrival, the university graduated its first class of master's degree recipients. Under Vartabedian's leadership, MWSU now offers around 20 master's degree options.

"I couldn't be happier with spending the last 11 years of my career here," Vartabedian said. "I feel very gratified and feel like we were able to accomplish a number of important things thanks to the wonderful people I've been privileged to work with."

One of the most visible legacys Vartabedian will leave behind is the development of the Griffon Indoor Sports Complex, which was the major incentive of having the Kansas City Chiefs move their training camp from Wisconsin back home to Missouri and to the MWSU campus.

 Vartabedian has always been a supportive president to the MWSU athletics program.

"Those buildings are wonderful but this is someone who would write hand-written notes to student athletes when they get an academic honor," Looney said. "It was going above and beyond those personal relationships that made him so special."

Nobody can dismiss Vartabedian's passion for journalism and Walter Cronkite. Vartabedian almost single-handedly led to the creation of the Walter Cronkite Memorial on campus, complete with a replica of the newsroom from where Cronkite anchored the CBS Evening News.

At the time of its opening, Vartabedian shared his vision for the memorial.

"We hope this will encourage inspiring journalists at the high school level or at the college level to come here to just to study journalism," he said.

Even with everything Vartabedian accomplished during his tenure at Western, he has a simple request for how people will recall his leadership.

"I hope I will be remembered as someone who treated people well," he said. "I think that's the most important thing of all is that we treat people we work with well."

 Taking over for Vartabedian as president will be Matthew Wilson. Wilson has most recently been university president and a law professor at the University of Akron in Ohio.  He will take over at Western on July 1.

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