UMSL taps Steven J. Berberich to serve as vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost

by | Jan 9, 2023

Berberich has held the role on an interim basis since September 2021.
Steven J. Berberich

Steven J. Berberich was chosen to serve as vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost following a nationwide search. (Photos by August Jennewein)

Steven J. Berberich, who’s been serving as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at the University of Missouri–St. Louis since September 2021, will now hold the position on a permanent basis.

UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik announced today that Berberich has been selected to continue on as the university’s chief academic officer after a nationwide search that yielded a number of strong candidates.

Steven J. Berberich speaking at the State of the University Address and Faculty and Staff Recognition Ceremony

Steven J. Berberich speaks during the Faculty and Staff Recognition Ceremony while serving as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“I am so pleased to have Steve continue his leadership of the Office of Academic Affairs,” Sobolik said. “He is an experienced educator, researcher and administrator who has provided tremendous support to our faculty, staff and students since coming to UMSL, and I am grateful to have his leadership going forward as we continue to expand our academic programs to best meet the needs of the St. Louis region and its workforce.”

Berberich has already made an impact since coming to UMSL, restructuring the academic affairs office to create efficiencies in faculty affairs, academic affairs and student success. He’s worked in collaboration with the Office of Human Resources to launch an Emerging Leaders Program for faculty and staff, and he created a process for tenured faculty members to take sabbatical leaves.

He’s led several successful job searches, including hiring Dr. Keshia Elder to serve as the dean of the College of Optometry – making her the first Black woman in the country to hold such a position.

With MoExcels grant funding, Berberich is also helping establish an Advanced Technology and Geospatial Laboratory in Benton Hall that will provide an ideal training environment to prepare students to work in geospatial and other in-demand technology-enabled fields.

Through it all, he’s tried to maintain focus on finding ways to improve student outcomes.

“Students success is a primary goal,” Berberich said. “We’re serving the students in our communities, and that’s been important to me. I think it comes back to being a first-generation college graduate myself.”

Berberich expects to be busy in the year ahead as he leads the process to develop UMSL’s next five-year strategic plan, working with and seeking input from constituencies across campus at a time when the university is also preparing to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

He’ll also oversee searches for several key positions in the UMSL leadership, including new deans for the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business Administration, as well as a new vice provost for student affairs.

Berberich came to UMSL from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, where he spent three years as the senior vice president of academic affairs and provost. But most of his career has been spent at Wright State University, where he first earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and PhD in biomedical science.

After three years as a postdoctoral fellow in the biology department at Princeton University, Berberich returned to his alma mater as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1993.

Over the next 25 years at Wright State, while earning promotions to associate and later full professor, Berberich served in roles such as co-director of the Clinical Molecular Genetics Laboratory at Kettering Medical Center, director of the Gene Expression Laboratory, director of the Center for Genomics Research, and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He first moved into administration in 2013 as the associate provost for faculty and staff affairs.

Berberich sees many similarities between UMSL and Wright State – as well as Houston-Clear Lake – in the importance they place on student success.

“As I’ve come to be here and see the faculty and staff and leadership and their commitment to transforming not just student lives, but lives within the community as well as lives within our own campus sphere, I am really impressed with what this place does,” Berberich said. “It’s just an exciting place to be, and I personally have come to the realization that the provost’s office is where I’m most passionate about. It’s where I really feel I can make an impact, helping faculty and staff through the great work that they do.”

Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik