By Kat Riddler, Managing Editor

Kristin Sobolik joined the University of Missouri-St. Louis as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs on June 1. Sobolik was previously dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

At Wright State, she oversaw a college with 11 departments, one school, two institutes, one center, and eight interdisciplinary programs. Sobolik was a dean and professor of anthropology there since 2013.

Her new duties at UMSL include leading academic operations, research, and student affairs and reporting directly to the chancellor. Sobolik replaced Glen Cope, who retired in June 2016. Sobolik received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Iowa and master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University in anthropology. Sobolik contributed to the fields of archaeobiology and paleonutrition with over 100 publications, books, and presentations.

Prior to her time at Wright State, Sobolik was at the University of Maine as an assistant professor and later full professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology in 2006. She then became the associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2011. While there, she was also the Associate Director of the world-renowned Climate Change Institute. While at Wright State, Sobolik helped bring to fruition the modernization and expansion of the Creative Arts Center, including the Robert and Elaine Stein Art Galleries, the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures, and the New Media Incubator. She guided the development of an area of excellence in Policy with the re-envisioned Applied Policy Research Institute (APRI) and formation of the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), as well as the Center for Liberal Arts Student Success (CLASS), that focuses on student retention and workforce development.

Sobolik said, “The University of Missouri–St. Louis has some of the nation’s leading scholars who are truly committed to education, research, and serving a diverse, vibrant community. I am excited by the opportunity to engage with faculty, staff, and students to help harness and focus campus resources to ensure our continued growth trajectory and excellence in these vitally important areas.”

The Current was able to interview Sobolik about her first month at UMSL.

The Current (TC): Why did you choose UMSL?

Kristin Sobolik (KS): I was very excited to learn about UMSL’s mission to meet students where they are in their life journey and help them get to the next level. I am passionate about student engagement and success as the focal point for each person’s own development but also as a means to improving the success of our region and nation.

TC: After being here for a couple months, what do you like best about your position?

KS: I have been so impressed with the people I meet each and every day! Everyone here is so dedicated to what they do and to student success that it truly makes me happy to come to work. I have been exploring different areas and units on campus to meet people and learn more about UMSL, and I have been amazed at the hard work and dedication of everyone to our mission. It really feels as if we are working collectively toward a common goal.

TC: Do you get to use any of your anthropology experience in your position?

KS: [Laughs here!] Yes—each and every day! Anthropology is the analysis of culture and I have been a part of the culture of higher education for my entire career. But each institution has its own culture within that of higher education, and it is always fascinating to analyze, and adapt to, that different culture. It keeps me on my toes!

TC: Is there anything that you look forward to later in the summer or in the fall?

KS:I am looking forward to the time when I know most of the people on campus. I am not sure if that will happen this summer or fall – or even later – but there is such satisfaction in being able to identify all of your colleagues, and to know what important part of the UMSL puzzle each person plays.

TC: Is there any advice you would like to share to those looking at UMSL or those new to UMSL?

KS: UMSL’s beauty and attraction are immediately visible, both as a part of the physical campus as well as the engagement of the faculty and staff. My advice would be to look even further beyond that—to dig a little deeper—and I think you will find the heart of UMSL which is focused not on itself, but on our students, on their ultimate success and development. That focus is who UMSL really is, and I am so proud to be a part of that.