James R. Garvey
Emily Adair | Editor-in-Chief
Published April 9, 2015; 4:20 p.m.
The president of Emporia State University will be Lindenwood University’s next president.
Michael Shonrock will begin his administration at Lindenwood University when current President James Evans retires June 1, 2015.
LU Board of Directors Chairman Jim Shoemake sent an email to Lindenwood students on April 9, 2015 before making an official announcement.
According to the email, passed along by LU’s public relations department, Shoemake described Shonrock as a “friendly, engaging, students-first leader.”
Shonrock is currently the president of Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas, an MIAA university with an enrollment of approximately 5,500 students, according to the school’s website.
Jason Lively, an active member of Lindenwood’s Faculty Council, had the opportunity to meet with Evans, Shonrock and Shonrock’s wife, Karen, before the announcement was made.
Lively said the students, faculty and staff of Lindenwood will likely be pleased with Shonrock’s administration.
“Witt/Kieffer was on campus surveying the stakeholders of the university to find out what kind of president we need” Lively said. “My first impression is that he fits that bill.”
“He seems to have a great sense of humor and I get the impression he will work toward the idea of shared governance,” Lively said.
Lively said Shonrock and his wife told stories about how, as a university president, Shonrock would ride the bus with the basketball team to a game.
“There were a couple things like that that suggested he would really engage with students,” Lively said.
An article by the Emporia State University student newspaper, The Bulletin, described Shonrock two years into his presidency there.
Stephen Catt, chair of the department of communication and theatre, has been at the university since 1977, and has seen several presidents come through ESU.
“There have been several presidents since I’ve been here and all of them have been very capable but nobody comes close to his enthusiasm,” Catt said. “Nobody comes close to his positive outlook. Nobody comes close to his ability to connect with people.”
Shonrock has a Bachelor of Science from Western Illinois University, a Master of Science and Education specialist from Pittsburg State University, and a PhD from the University of Kansas.
Shoemake said Shonrock’s credentials match up with Lindenwood’s needs.
Shonrock “will be able to handle everything from fundraising to finance. He is a data-informed futurist and is committed to connecting with our alumni and other University constituencies,” Shoemake stated in the email sent by Public Relations Manager Scott Queen.
Shonrock was also a former faculty member, and Lively said Lindenwood may see Shonrock teach some classes during his administration.
Lively also said Shonrock knows he has big shoes to fill.
“He actually knows President Evans, they get along, and he knows about Evans’ dedication,” Lively said.
Emporia State University made news recently, along with the University of Kansas, when Moody’s Investor’s Service downgraded its credit ranking from A1 to A2 in May, 2014. A Kansas City Star article stated that the downgrade reflects insufficient cash flow.
The “rating incorporates the university’s vulnerability to state budgetary challenges given ESU’s relatively high dependence on state appropriations for operations,” Moody’s told the Kansas City Star.
Representatives of the firm Witt/Kieffer met with Evans, the Faculty Council, student government and Board of Directors to understand the interests of Lindenwood’s community. After compiling a list of the desired attributes, Witt/Kieffer sent out an advertisement to draw in applicants.
The applicants were narrowed to a list of candidates, which were presented to the Board of Directors for selection. The Board voted to hire Shonrock on Thursday, April 9.