Karl Guenther '02
ASST. VICE CHANCELLOR, ECONOMIC & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-ST. LOUIS
Industry – HIGHER EDUCATION
EDUCATION – MA, ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-ST. LOUIS; MSW, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, RESEARCH, WASHINGton UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS; BS, PSYCHOLOGY, BA, RELIGION, TRUMAN STATE UNIVERSITY
Describe what you're working on and/or what you're most proud to have accomplished.
I lead the Office of Community and Economic Development at UMSL, which leverages the University’s business operations and academic expertise to improve social and economic outcomes and opportunity for residents of North St. Louis County, the region, and the state. We do this by leading and supporting community-university initiatives, growing a culture of engagement on campus, building statewide community development capacity, and fostering community relationships. Currently, our most transformative work includes a 35-acre campus development project to create the North County Business and Workforce District and staffing the St. Louis Anchor Action Network, which catalyzes regional institutions to support equitable neighborhood development and community wealth building. In addition to what's underway, I’m proud to have staffed the formation of two organizations that strengthen the region's community development sector: the Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis and Invest STL.
You know we have to ask it. Do you have a favorite SLUH memory or teacher?
Amongst many wonderful relationships and memories from my time at SLUH, Joe Schulte stands out as one of the most formative of my teachers and mentors. From math to juggling to theater, Mr. Schulte always found a way to help us build skills and share life lessons that stick with me today.
What topic are you most excited about in your industry?
I'm excited to be engaged in a national coalition of urban universities that's developing ways to improve economic mobility and quality of life in communities around campus and in broader regions.
Think back to senior year. Was this the job you dreamed of? If not, then what?
I've always been interested in service, community, individual well-being, and social justice. I never imagined one role could allow me to live out my passion so fully, and I feel blessed to do so.
Who or what inspired you to pursue your field of interest?
I'm lucky to call Dr. Todd Swanstrom a mentor and former boss. He's a national expert in community development and a model for how to apply scholarship to improve lives and communities.
How are you acting as a Man for Others in your current role?
I'm committed to a life of service personally and professionally. That's meant building deep relationships with neighbors, colleagues, or community members, and working together on their aspirations.
What advice would you give to current students?
Always keep open ears, an open heart, and an open mind to see where you can be of service to building a better world.