Kristen Dragotto, A&E Editor
On March 21, 2019, Tom George announced his retirement from his position as the University of Missouri–St. Louis chancellor. George has served as the chancellor for 16 years, overseeing academic and administrative operations over the university.
George started his journey into higher education after he received his Ph.D. in philosophy and theoretical chemistry from Yale University. After he received his doctorate, George did his postdoctoral appointments at MIT and UC Berkeley, where he continued to interview with companies related to his field; he made the realization that nothing resonated with him at that time. George explained it was after the interviews that he found himself at a turning point and felt called to stay within academia. He then decided to pursue a career in higher education.
The pursuit of a career in higher education proved to be very successful for George. At the age of 29, George became a professor of chemistry at the University of Rochester. He later served as the dean of natural sciences and mathematics at SUNY-Buffalo and later became the provost at Washington State University. He continued his career by becoming the chancellor at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. Then eventually making his way to UMSL in 2003 after being approached to become the chancellor and a professor of chemistry.
George explained that after his retirement Sep. 1 of this year, he will not only retire his position as chancellor but also as a professor. While he will no longer be teaching, he plans on staying active in his research program.
When asked what his favorite part has been while working at UMSL, he stated, “I love interacting with students and the organization aspects whether it’s the student government organization, The Current or at the gym, I really enjoy getting to know the students. It gives me great satisfaction.” This passion for connection has impacted the imprint the university has left on his heart. Remarking on his favorite memories was the initiative that students took with the new Recreation and Wellness Center on UMSL’s campus.
It is the hope of George that the next chancellor will continue the positive path the university is on. Despite the challenges the state has been faced with in terms of finances, the university has continued to thrive. It is his hope that UMSL will continue to introduce new degree programs like cybersecurity making UMSL even more inclusive than it already is. One thing George noted is that UMSL is an anchor institution taking on the role of being a stabilizing force for the St. Louis community in terms of its ability to impact the economic develop and the cultural and social health of the region.
While George has no set plans after he retires in September, he is looking forward to this next chapter in his life. George has done a phenomenal job as chancellor in the last 16 years. He has left a legacy that has impacted UMSL. George took UMSL’s mission of transforming lives to heart and made that mission a reality for so many people.