Karl Guenther appointed director of UMSL’s Anchor Institution Initiative

by | Aug 2, 2019

Guenther has spent the past eight years working on community engagement and economic development issues at UMSL.
Karl Guenther, community development specialist

Karl Guenther has been appointed the director of UMSL’s Anchor Institution Initiative. He’s spent the past eight years working on community engagement and economic development at UMSL. (Photo by August Jennewein)

The University of Missouri–St. Louis has made clear its commitment to community engagement and economic development in one of five compacts laid out in the strategic plan adopted last year.

Part of its mission is to serve as an anchor, supporting and securing the community in which it rests.

To that end, UMSL created a director of Anchor Institution Initiative position and appointed Karl Guenther to the post. He assumes his new role today.

Guenther has spent the past eight years at UMSL working on community development issues in different capacities with the Des Lee Collaborative Vision and Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis, Invest STL, Creating Whole Communities and UMSL’s Community Innovation and Action Center.

“UMSL is committed to helping all of our neighbors in north St. Louis County become as vibrant as they can be, and I can’t think of a better choice to direct those efforts than Karl,” Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Kristin Sobolik said. “He earned a master’s degree at UMSL and has already been part of the work the university does to engage with our community and improve the St. Louis region.”

UMSL will host its second annual Engaging Local Business event on Sept. 18 to foster cooperation with business in the surrounding neighborhoods, and Guenther is a lead organizer for the event.

He also has been supporting working groups of university leaders focused on improving health, education and service in the footprint of the Normandy Schools Collaborative as well as exploring ideas for economic development.

“As a part of the overall community engagement efforts of our university, we are thrilled to have this position at UMSL which will help us strengthen and expand our efforts in and with communities immediately around our campus,” said Patricia Zahn, UMSL’s director of community outreach and engagement. “Karl is a wonderful colleague and an asset to this important work and is the right person to assume this role. As director of our Anchor Institution Initiative, he will continue to work collaboratively with, for example, UMSL University Square and economic development and other outreach and engagement initiatives, as well as focus on improving our communications and strengthening relationships in this area.”

Guenther is excited for the work ahead.

“I’m very lucky and grateful to get the chance to serve in this role for the university,” Guenther said. “My time at UMSL has been dedicated to community and economic development. This job is going to pull from that experience and will allow me to really focus 100 percent on how UMSL, as an institution, can be a powerful partner in building vibrant communities.

“We have the ability to bring the economic wherewithal and the human capital of the university – in partnership with the community – to make that happen and have mutual long-term benefit.”

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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