Feb. 28, 2022 – The Rockhurst University Board of Trustees has selected Sandra Cassady, Ph.D., to become the 15th president of Rockhurst University, effective July 1, 2022.
Cassady will make history as the first female and first lay president of Rockhurst, one of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province’s six schools of higher education.
Cassady, who earned a Ph.D. in exercise science from the University of Iowa, comes to Rockhurst from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, where she serves as vice president for strategic initiatives and dean of the College of Health and Human Services. In these roles, she works closely with each division of university administration, including enrollment management, finance and fundraising. In addition to leading the development of new academic programs across the university, she provides oversight for undergraduate, graduate and transfer admissions, advising and academic student services.
“Dr. Cassady’s lengthy record of service in Catholic higher education and health care makes her ideally suited to lead Rockhurst University,” said Thomas F. Hastings, M.D., chair of the Rockhurst University Board of Trustees. “In addition, her extensive work in higher education accreditation and experience as a faculty member will be invaluable as she assumes her new role.”
At St. Ambrose, Cassady has led the development of new mission-focused academic programs that strengthen partnerships with area agencies serving the underserved, such as social work and public health.
“Dr. Cassady’s commitment and contribution to the Catholic intellectual tradition has been stellar,” said Fr. Thomas B. Curran, SJ, president of Rockhurst University. “Her desire to become a companion in our Jesuit way of proceeding, expressed in a faith that does justice, is humbling and gratifying. I look forward to welcoming and assisting her, as she becomes the new director of the work in the Society of Jesus, at Rockhurst University, so she is positioned for professional success and personal transformation in our Jesuit enterprise of higher education.”
Since 2003, Cassady has served as a member of the Higher Learning Commission’s peer review corps, the Institutional Actions Council, and the Specialized Review Corps, where she deals with complex and challenging issues faced by institutions of higher education, such as mergers, acquisitions and change of control. In addition, she has been an active member of the Quad Cities Community where she serves on the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Quad Cities.
“I believe a Catholic university president must ensure that the Catholic and religious order identities of the institution remain vibrant, while personifying, articulating and celebrating the Catholic mission of the university,” Cassady said. “The Catholic, Jesuit mission of Rockhurst University and its vision to create a more just world through inclusive, innovative and transformative education are what drew me to Rockhurst and are closely aligned with my own values and experience. I look forward to leading and partnering with the Rockhurst community and greater Kansas City community as we continue the work toward realizing this vision.”
Cassady will replace Fr. Curran., who announced in September 2021 that he would step down following the close of this academic year, his 16th year as president. He plans to take a sabbatical following his tenure to prepare for his next assignment with the Society of Jesus, which will involve coordinating a Jesuit network of colleges and universities of education programs for incarcerated individuals.
Rockhurst University, founded in 1910 and located in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, is a Catholic university in the Jesuit tradition committed to providing inclusive, innovative and transformative education. As a comprehensive university and supportive community of nearly 4,000 students, its mission is to form lifelong learners in the liberal arts tradition who engage the complexities of our world and serve others as compassionate, thoughtful leaders. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Rockhurst among the top Midwest Regional Universities. Rockhurst has held the community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching since 2010. Learn more at www.rockhurst.edu.