Interim President Shane Smeed hopes to help all students succeed

In his first two months as Park University’s interim president, Shane Smeed has focused on prioritizing student success and wellness.

Smeed explained that means making Park’s tools more accessible to students virtually, making sure students stay safe during COVID-19 and reminding students he is available and interested in making sure all students get the help they need.

His tenure at the top of Park University began suddenly. Smeed was appointed acting president by the Board of Trustees on Nov. 13, 2020. He was selected to become the interim president at the Bord’s Executive Committee meeting on Dec. 8. Before this appointment, Smeed had been the Chief Operating Officer of Park University for five years.

Because of that, he is already very familiar with the university, its students and the changes that have been made to adapt to COVID-19 in the last year. Smeed said that because so many students have had to transition to virtual learning, his team wants to focus on providing them with tools they accessed to in a face-to-face environment.

“We’ve even found that our services have increased in some of our student services areas by having the virtual component or capability,” he said.

Based off that increase in use, Smeed wants to prioritize access to all of Park’s tools and services both virtually and in-person, enabling students to use them regardless of whether they live on campus or attend remotely.

Another area that Interim President Smeed will be focusing on is how the university will continue to safely handle COVID-19.

He said that his team is, “spending a lot of our time making sure that we are creating a safe environment for our students, but we also realize that we need to start planning to resume to the closest sense of normalcy as we possibly can.”

He added that Park will continue to work with Platte County to create a safe environment by doing things like practicing social distancing and following the mask policy. He said he hopes that as students, faculty and staff receive vaccinations it will help Fall 2021 look closer to normal.

Finally, Smeed said he wants to be incredibly accessible to Park students. He has open office hours where students can schedule a time to meet with him virtually. These office hours are every Tuesday from 10-11 a.m. To schedule an appointment, students should contact [email protected] or call 816-584-6202.

In normal settings, students would be able to just walk in to address challenges that they are facing, but since that is difficult right now, this virtual option is being used. Smeed is willing to help students with any issue.

“I really want to help our students achieve their educational goals and ultimately position themselves to be significant contributors in society in whichever professions they choose to go into,” he said.

The Board of Trustees has formed a search committee to hire Park University’s next president. Smeed said he plans to apply for the position.

Original post of this story listed the date Smeed was appointed acting president inaccurately.