Sharon Stahl Promoted to Vice Chancellor for Students
Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton has announced a senior leadership appointment at Washington University in St. Louis — the vice chancellor for students — to fill one of two roles held by James E. McLeod before his death Sept. 6.
Sharon Stahl, PhD, associate vice chancellor for students and dean of the First Year Center, has been named vice chancellor for students.
Stahl, a Clayton resident whose appointment is effective July 1, will become a member of WUSTL’s University Council, which comprises the chief administrative officers and deans of the university.
Stahl, along with Wayne Fields, PhD, the Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Professor of English in Arts & Sciences, has been leading the College of Arts & Sciences, in addition to her other responsibilities, on an interim basis since Oct. 1.
Stahl will remain a member of the College of Arts & Sciences as senior associate dean.
“In drawing Stahl and Smith to our leadership team we have a combination of talented, experienced leaders who will build on the foundation built by Jim McLeod,” Wrighton says. “Continuing to strengthen the student experience in every way is our objective, and I am very pleased to be able to work with Sharon Stahl and Jennifer Smith in the era ahead.”
Stahl committed to enhancing undergraduate experience
Stahl joined the university in 1988; all of that time has been spent in the College of Arts & Sciences, largely under the direction of McLeod, the person she considers her mentor.
“My years in the college have been such rewarding ones — wonderful colleagues, faculty, deans and staff and the most amazing and inspiring students anyone could hope to advise and mentor,” Stahl says.
“And I was so very lucky because I had the good fortune to be advised and mentored by Jim McLeod for 20 years. My effectiveness as an adviser and mentor to students, every positive contribution that it has been my privilege to make, can be traced back to Jim’s mentorship and his ability to bring out the best in every life he touched.
“Being asked to serve as vice chancellor for students is both an honor and a privilege,” Stahl says. “It is such an exciting opportunity to work with Washington University students in this role, and I look forward to learning more about all the facets that define the undergraduate experience, an experience that is as individual as each student.
“I look forward to coming to know all those names and stories — stories that are narrated by the classroom, the athletic field, the laboratory and the library, and the more than 300 student organizations that enrich the lives of our students every day.”
“I admire and respect Sharon Stahl, a valuable friend and colleague, for her commitment over the past two decades guiding hundreds of students through their undergraduate years at Washington University,” says Provost Edward S. Macias, PhD, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences.
“She has done a wonderful job as well leading the First Year Center since its inception in 2009, helping new students transition to university life,” Macias says. “She is committed to providing our freshmen and transfer students an exceptional undergraduate experience by engaging them with the academic, intellectual and social life of the Washington University community.
“Sharon is ideally suited to be vice chancellor of students,” Macias says. “Her dedication to preparing our students for lives of purpose and meaning is immeasurable.”
Ability to connect with students
As vice chancellor for students, Stahl will oversee the teaching and learning of undergraduates, with overarching responsibility for a wide range of offices: Campus Life, Community Service, Greek Life, Student Activities, Career Center, Orientation, Student Health and Counseling, Office for International Students and Scholars, Residential Life, Athletics, Cornerstone, First Year Student Center and Event Services.
Stahl, was featured in a Washington People Record profile, started her career at WUSTL in the College of Arts & Sciences, serving as part-time scholarship coordinator for the Honorary Scholars Program until 1992, when McLeod became dean and named her assistant dean.
She was promoted to associate dean of the college in 1995. Among her responsibilities, she was a four-year academic adviser and was assigned 40 incoming freshmen every year. Those students stayed with her until they left the university, either to pursue employment or graduate degrees. Not infrequently, these relationships continued beyond the student’s tenure.
As director of the Life Sciences Pre-Professional program, Stahl advised undergraduates applying to medical school. She also served as the liaison between Arts & Sciences and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
Recognizing Stahl’s ability to connect with students and help them through their college years, McLeod named her associate vice chancellor for students and the inaugural director of the First Year Center in 2009.
In this position, Stahl works with colleagues in all areas of the university that can influence a student’s arrival and transition to campus life, including the five undergraduate schools and many other offices and programs. She also works with faculty members who have large classes with first-year students.
Stahl also directs the Danforth Scholars program, which provides full or partial scholarships to students upholding the highest academic and character standards.
Stahl earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Missouri-Columbia, in 1968, and completed graduate work in art history in 1970 from Vanderbilt University, where she worked in undergraduate admissions.
After moving to St. Louis, and with three young children at home, Stahl entered the doctoral program in history at Saint Louis University, earning a degree in 1987.
She met her future husband — Philip D. Stahl, PhD, now professor of cell biology and physiology at the WUSTL School of Medicine — at Mizzou’s Research Reactor Facility, where she was an undergraduate tour guide and he was doing postdoctoral training.