Oliver Appointed CMU Vice President
It may be a new position, but Central Methodist University's first Vice President for Institutional Growth and Student Engagement will not be a new face when he starts work in mid-June.
Ken Oliver, a CMU alumnus and seasoned administrator and athletics coach at the University, has been appointed by President Marianne E. Inman. She made the announcement and introduced - or more accurately, reintroduced - Oliver to the campus community and CMU governing board this past week.
"I believe CMU is one of the best private universities in the Midwest, and I am excited to be part of a university that is on the move," Oliver said. "I'm humbled and honored they would consider me for the position, and I'm excited about the direction in which we're headed."
Oliver's enthusiasm for this new opportunity clearly is matched by Inman's.
"Ken is known for his energy, drive, and results-orientation," Inman noted. "I am pleased that CMU will once again have the benefit of his many talents and deep commitment to this institution."
Oliver is in his third year as director of athletics at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK), and his administrative skills have yielded impressive results for the Javelinas, an NCAA Division II institution.
TAMUK has won the Lone Star Conference's "Best Community Engagement" award all three years he has served, and had the second-highest donation level to the "Make-A-Wish" foundation amongst all NCAA Division II colleges and universities.
The Javelina athletic program made gains in female student-athlete participation and scholarships, and its student-athlete retention rate grew by 12 percent under Oliver's direction. The University secured over $2.5 million in improvements to Javelina Stadium, and made other facility improvements during his service.
The new post at CMU will be tasked with leadership and strategic direction for "enrollment growth with quality," Inman said. Oversight and management of CMU student development programs and its 14-sport athletics department are two key responsibilities.
Oliver will be deeply involved in enrollment and retention, including support for integration and coordination of CMU's on-campus College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and its College of Graduate and Extended Studies.
From student recruitment and admission services, residence life and student activities, to student health services and career development, Oliver will be engaged in most aspects of CMU students' experiences beyond the classroom before and during their time at CMU.
He'll also work closely with areas such as fundraising and development, marketing, and physical plant operations. That wide scope was part of the attraction for Oliver.
"Going back to my undergraduate days at CMU, I carried a double major in communications and in physical education and health, and was involved in athletics and in theatre," Oliver said. "I like the diverse responsibilities in this new position; I'll be involved with the 'total university,' and it will help me grow professionally."
Because of his deep CMU roots, Oliver admitted that when President Inman offered him the job, we got a "tingling feeling."
From 2001 until he departed for Kingsville, Oliver was CMU's dean of students. For two years prior to that he taught and coached football and women's golf at CMU. Oliver also spent three years at William Penn University (Oskaloosa, Iowa), a year at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, and two years at Northwest Missouri State University.
A native of Centralia, Oliver and his wife Michelle are parents of five-year-old Brady. He graduated from then-Central Methodist College in 1993 with bachelor's degrees in communications, and in physical education and health. Oliver received his master's degree in education from Northwest Missouri State.
He also taught at CMU, William Penn, Fort Scott, and Northwest Missouri, in addition to administrative and coaching duties at each institution. His coaching experiences have included football, golf, softball, and track and field.
It is that breadth of experiences - in the office, in the classroom, and on the field - that convinced Inman she had the best candidate for Central's future directions. That Oliver is an alumnus and former administrator and coach was the proverbial icing on the cake.
"It will be a pleasure to welcome Ken and his family back to Central Methodist University...although I believe that in spirit he never left," Inman said.
Founded in 1854, Central Methodist programs range from undergraduate and graduate studies to high-school dual credit offerings. Serving more than 5,000 students on its historic main campus in Fayette, through collaborative programs at locations across Missouri, and online, the CMU mission emphasizes academic and professional excellence, ethical leadership, and social responsibility.
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