Katelyn Chostner, Editor-in-Chief
Provost, Executive Vice Chancellor and professor of Anthropology Kristin Sobolik hosted her first Pizza with the Provost this past Thursday in the Millennium Student Center Fireside Lounge. The event encouraged students to speak with Sobolik about what is working for the University of Missouri–St. Louis and what needs to be worked on.
Ashlee Roberts, assistant director of the Office of Student Involvement, introduced Sobolik to students. Sobolik has been at UMSL for a year after coming from Wright State University. Roberts mentioned that this is the first of many Pizza with the Provost meetings that Sobolik is going to host. There will be another one during this fall semester.
Sobolik started the event by speaking about her position and what it entails. She oversees many positions and gets to work with the colleges, deans and faculty. Sobolik also works with students through Student Affairs, athletics and graduate studies. Since she works with students, she wanted to create Pizza with the Provost, so she could speak with them in a relaxed setting. Sobolik talked about her past positions as a professor of anthropology and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Wright State University. These positions let her be heavily involved with the Wright State students. Her time at UMSL as provost has given her a larger workload and she is looking for an outlet to reconnect with students
“As you move into those roles, I have less and less contact everyday with students, which I really miss … I really miss working with and interacting with students,” said Sobolik.
Pizza with the Provost opened the floor for students to speak to Sobolik about what UMSL was doing that worked for them specifically. One student mentioned how the Pierre Laclede Honors College created a good environment for him to thrive in. Sobolik said the new Dean of the Pierre Laclede Honors College Edward Munn Sanchez thinks the culture of the honors college is positive because everyone knows everyone since it is a close-knit community.
Another student spoke about how the music offered at UMSL was fantastic. Sobolik talked about the existing music the college offers such as the Arianna String Quartet and the jazz program. She also mentioned how UMSL planned on growing the music that the college offers. The college received a multimillion-dollar gift to form a new jazz institute. UMSL has not only their own performers, but performers from all over the nation.
Other than the music and honors college, students talked about food pantries, the tutoring offered on campus and the discounts offered to leadership positions. After the conversation about what is working for UMSL, Sobolik invited students to speak about what the college needs to fix or address.
One of the first things brought up during this part of the event was the transportation shuttles on campus. Students went over the time frames the shuttles offer to students. Sobolik mentioned that the shuttle pickup times had recently changed, but students still seem to be facing issues. She offered a solution by giving feedback on the shuttle system. Since the system uses an app to track the shuttles, Roberts suggested using the feedback link on the UMSL Mobile app.
Another issue brought up was the theatre degree program shutting down. Sobolik mentioned there were only eight students majoring in theatre.
“The major has been inactivated, so we’re not taking on new students,” said Sobolik. “We decided to, in essence, reallocate those resources, basically into our other fine and performing arts areas.”
Other issues, such as UMSL’s food options were taken down in Sobolik’s notebook for further review. The event was a success for students who wanted to have their issues heard and it was also a success for Sobolik who wanted to connect with students. Overall, Pizza with the Provost will be an event students can look forward to attending again later in the semester.