Getting to know RU’s newest president – Q&A with Dr. Cassady


Courtesy of Rockhurst University

Danielle Barry, Reporter

During the school year of 2022, the Rockhurst University school board chose a new president of the school. While we all will miss Father Curran, we are all anxious and excited to meet our new president, Dr. Sandra Cassady. She is the first women and lay president Rockhurst University has ever had. She was chosen to be our president on February 28, 2022 and will begin working on July 1, 2022.

Dr. Cassady began her career in healthcare as a physical therapist. She worked in two different hospitals in Iowa, which were the Medical Center in Des Moines and St. Luke’s hospital in Cedar Rapids. After earning her PhD, she joined the Catholic University of Saint Ambrose and has been there for 28 years. At Saint Ambrose, she is the Dean of the College of Health and Human Services. She is also the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives.

Where have you previously worked?

My career began in healthcare working as a physical therapist for two health systems in Iowa, Mercy Hospital Medical Center in Des Moines and St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. After earning my PhD, I joined the faculty at St. Ambrose University and have served this Catholic university for 28 years.

How do you feel about being the first female president at Rockhurst University?

I am excited to be the 15th president of Rockhurst University and the first woman to serve in this capacity. As the number of women attending college and universities has grown to approximately 60%, several higher education organizations have been working to increase the number of women serving as presidents and other senior roles of colleges and universities. I am pleased to contribute to the growing number of women who are presidents in Catholic, private higher education.

What missions and values of Rockhurst resonated with you?

Throughout my career, I have strived to be a mission-focused leader and I look forward to leading and advancing the Catholic and Jesuit mission of Rockhurst University. When invited to apply to be the next President of Rockhurst, I went directly to the website to review the mission and values. The University’s focus on transforming lives, excellence in education, emphasis on service and commitment to life and growth of the city/region all resonated with me. The Jesuit values of Rockhurst University, including finding God in all things, cura personalis, and practicing reflection and discernment, align with my personal values and actions.

What new experience or ideas do you feel you will bring to Rockhurst?

It takes a new president some time to learn about what is already in place; I am definitely still learning about Rockhurst. My knowledge of Rockhurst grows each day, and I look forward to being on campus to learn more. I look forward to engaging with members of the campus community to consider new programs and partnerships to facilitate student learning and serve the region.

What are you most excited for as our new president?

First, I am excited to get to know the campus community and the greater Kansas City community. I am excited to help build on the many strengths of Rockhurst University and to help ensure a high quality learning experience for generations to come. In addition, I look forward to working with many stakeholders to create the next strategic plan.

Do you have any events that you would like to begin at Rockhurst?

This should become clearer after I learn more about the events already in place. I have enjoyed seeing some events described in campus messages. It is definitely a busy time of year on the Rockhurst campus with a variety of events already underway!

Are there any events at Rockhurst that you are excited to experience?

I am excited to learn more about the traditions and special events held at Rockhurst, what brings students and employees to Rockhurst and what keeps them here. I have heard many positive comments about the wide range of opportunities for students and the student experience.

We’d love to learn more about you. What are some of your hobbies? Have you lived in KC before? If not, what are you excited to see/try?

While our family has visited Kansas City many times, this will be our first time living in the community. We enjoy the fine arts as well as college and professional athletics. We were happy to see part of the Rockhurst baseball game this weekend. It has been awhile since I have been to the museums in Kansas City. We are excited to fully explore the region and learn all that it has to offer.