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Saint Louis University Announces Next Vice President for Student Development

12/18/2020Media Inquiries

Carrie Bebermeyer
Public Relations Director

Reserved for members of the media.

Saint Louis University has appointed Sarah Cunningham, Ed.D., as vice president for student development. Her appointment — which follows a national search led by a committee of students, faculty and staff — is effective Feb. 15.

Sarah Cunningham
Sarah Cunningham, Ed.D.

Cunningham currently serves as the assistant vice provost for student life strategy and policy at Johns Hopkins University. She also has served in student affairs leadership roles at the University of Chicago, the University of Florida and George Mason University.

In her new role at SLU, Cunningham will oversee Housing and Residence Life, the Student Health Center, the University Counseling Center, Academic Support Services, the Student Involvement Center; Campus Recreation and Wellness, the Center for Service and Community Engagement, Disability Services, and Student Responsibility and Community Standards, among other areas. Cunningham will report to the University’s provost and will serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet.

As a champion and advocate for students, she will work closely with students, faculty, staff, administrators and trustees to strengthen a collaborative, University-wide effort to provide holistic support to students.

In her current role at Johns Hopkins, Cunningham oversees programs focused on improving the student experience across the institution, designing effective systems for responding to student crises, championing student success and retention, and enhancing student health and well-being. Additionally, she chairs or has chaired the Johns Hopkins' Integrated Student Health and Well-Being Working Group and the Student Retention Working Group, and co-chaired the Safety and Security Student Advisory Committee. 

Cunningham brings deep experience managing diverse and inclusive teams, overseeing large and complex budgets, and creating strategic plans, in addition to leading many other student-facing projects. Cunningham earned her doctorate in higher education and organizational change from Benedictine University. She also earned her MS degree in college student personnel services from Western Illinois University. 

“From the Student Development leadership team to fellow members of the President’s cabinet to student and faculty leaders, our community responded to her candidacy with enthusiasm,” said Mike Lewis, Ph.D., interim provost at Saint Louis University.

"I know I speak for many who had the chance to hear from her during her virtual campus visits in saying Sarah will be an excellent fit here at SLU," Lewis continued. "We are excited for her to join our leadership team and begin her work with our colleagues in Student Development and across the University. ”

Cunningham will succeed Debra Rudder Lohe, Ph.D., who has served as interim vice president for student development since Jan. 1, 2020. Lohe preferred not to be considered for the permanent position and will return to her former role as the director of SLU’s Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning, a post she has held since 2011.

"I want to thank Dr. Lohe for her efforts over the past year as SLU’s interim vice president for student development," Lewis said. "Please join me in recognizing the significant contributions she made to the division and the University at large."

Lewis also thanked the search committee for their "diligence and commitment in overseeing the search process and bringing it to a successful conclusion." Chaired by Doug Williams, J.D., a professor in the School of Law, the committee included representatives of the Student Government Association, the Faculty Senate and Board of Trustees, along with leaders from academic affairs, athletics, diversity and community engagement, and mission and identity.

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers more than 12,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.