UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik, Christian Hospital President Rick Stevens honored by St. Louis City NAACP

Chancellor Kristin Sobolik, Christian Hospital President Rick Stevens

The St. Louis City NCAACP presented UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik and Christian Hospital President Rick Stevens with the Freeman/Seay Commitment to St. Louis Award at its 110th Anniversary and Annual Freedom Fund Dinner on Saturday. (Left: Photo by August Jennewein; Right: Photo courtesy BJC HealthCare)

The St. Louis City NAACP presented University of Missouri–St. Louis Chancellor Kristin Sobolik and Christian Hospital President Rick Stevens, a member of the Chancellor’s Council, with the Freeman/Seay Commitment to St. Louis Award Saturday as the organization celebrated its 110th Anniversary and Annual Freedom Fund Dinner.

The annual award, named in honor of the late attorney Frankie Muse Freeman and the late civil rights activist Norman R. Seay, was created to recognize the exemplary service, distinguished leadership and commitment to improving the cultural, social and economic growth and development of the St. Louis area.

“I am proud to accept this award on behalf of the University of Missouri–St. Louis and to do so alongside Rick Stevens, who has been a wonderful supporter of our university and who shares our commitment of inclusive prosperity throughout the St. Louis region,” Sobolik said. “Both UMSL and Christian Hospital have a particular interest in strengthening north St. Louis County, where we both reside, and we’re partnering to increase economic opportunity for our neighbors through our involvement with the St. Louis Anchor Action Network and other initiatives.”

The work UMSL and Christian Hospital do is emblematic of the theme for this year’s Annual Freedom Dinner, which was “Transforming Communities Through Education, Social Justice and Civic Engagement.”

Sobolik has been leaning heavily into what she sees as UMSL’s role and responsibility to collaboratively improve the St. Louis region. At her inauguration last spring, she announced the “Rise Up for St. Louis” initiative, which doubles down on the university’s role as a regional leader for workforce development by ensuring students of every background have access to high-quality, affordable education.

As part of the initiative, UMSL – a five-time recipient of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award – is also focused on developing programs that address regional needs. One such program is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Accelerator, which is supporting its second cohort of diverse entrepreneurs.

UMSL is also actively engaging partner institutions throughout the region and has taken a leadership role alongside Edward Jones in the formation of the St. Louis Anchor Action Network. Members of the network include BJC HealthCare, SSM Health, Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis University, Ameren and the Saint Louis Zoo. They are setting targets for hiring, purchasing and investing locally in neighborhoods that have faced disinvestment.

Christian Hospital, a part of BJC HealthCare, is a large employer in north St. Louis County and provides quality critical health care services. Stevens has served as the hospital’s president since 2016 and provides strategic leadership while overseeing daily operations at the 220-staffed-bed hospital.

Stevens has spent more than 25 years working in health care, having served in executive roles at Methodist McKinney Hospital in McKinney, Texas; Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky; University Medical Center, Inc. in Dallas; and Sutter California Pacific Medical Center St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco before coming to St. Louis.


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