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During his 16 years at UMSL, Chancellor Thomas F. George has overseen a physical transformation of the campus while also helping the university deepen its roots as an anchor institution in the St. Louis region. When he retires on September 1, he'll leave UMSL as the longest-tenured chancellor in the university's history.

Establishing a lasting legacy.

Help us honor his indelible impact to UMSL by making a gift to the new Chancellor Thomas F. George Promise and Opportunity Scholarship fund to support need-based scholarships for undergraduate students. 

For a limited time, all scholarship distributions from the endowment will be matched by the University of Missouri System and UMSL to ensure that your gift has an immediate impact to support our students.


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Tom George

You're invited!

Chancellor George and Dr. Harbach Retirement Celebration
August 23, 2019 | 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Terrace Lobby, Touhill Performing Arts Center | 1 University Blvd., St. Louis, MO
RSVP Today

“It has been the greatest experience of my professional life to serve as chancellor of UMSL and to represent the students, faculty, staff and alumni in our efforts alongside numerous community and business organizations. Barbara and I found the work rewarding and the people outstanding – all individuals dedicated to the betterment of the region and themselves.”   – Chancellor Tom George


Dr. George reflects on the people and moments that impacted his chancellorship.

Standing inside his longtime Woods Hall office, Tom George systematically scans a towering bookcase. From top left to bottom right, he studies 21 shelves packed with 16 years of memories.

He first calls attention to a pointed stone plaque commemorating his distinguished service to higher education. George then moves down the row to a gold Rawlings football in a glass case. It’s just one of the numerous accolades he’s received from the Boy Scouts of America.

His brief review of the memorabilia collected during his years as chancellor of the University of Missouri–St. Louis continues from there until he reaches a photo of himself taped against a wall – a moment captured from a campus fundraiser for cancer research.

George’s approach to outlining the contents of his bookcase is intentional with close attention to detail – similar to his leadership style.

Since 2003, he has led UMSL through a period of pronounced physical change and growth in almost every avenue. George has guided the university with a collaborative spirit and a passion for UMSL’s mission of transforming lives.

Chancellor George and Dr. Harbach

Dr. Barbara Harbach, George’s wife, is also retiring from her position as Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Music, chair of the Department of Music and director of the School of Fine and Performing Arts.

In addition to being a professor, Harbach is also a prolific composer and musician whose works have been performed worldwide. She is the founder of Women in the Arts-St. Louis and co-founder and senior editor of WomenArts Quarterly Journal. Harbach also founded Vivace Press, a music publishing company renowned for its interest in works by women and other traditionally under-represented composers.

In 2016, she was chosen as one of the 30 Most Innovative Women Professors Alive Today as well as ranked as the number one female organist.

All-Steinway School Fund

Both Chancellor George and Dr. Harbach have long wanted all UMSL music students to benefit from having access to Steinway pianos during their education on campus. To honor this wish and to celebrate their shared love of music, an All-Steinway School Fund has been establish to provide the financial resources necessary to fulfill this dream.



“When I think about leadership, personally and professionally, I think about the sense of integrity, trustworthiness and a concern for other people. These are the attributes about Chancellor George that resonate with me,” Chief Diversity Officer Deborah Burris says. “It is through that leadership style of collaboration, of having the freedom to express oneself and banter different thoughts and ideas that has helped UMSL to be all that we are.”


Under George’s leadership:

  • UMSL has had a total enrollment of 311,810 students – an average of 20,787 unduplicated students per year across the fall, spring and summer – and the university has awarded more than 46,000 degrees. George was on hand to celebrate UMSL’s 100,000th graduate in May 2018.

  • Total research grants have totaled $337.7 million over the past 16 years, including $33.6 million in fiscal year 2018 alone.

  • The university has twice earned reaffirmation of its accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, including in January when its accreditation was extended through the 2028-29 academic year.

  • UMSL has raised $347.7 million in philanthropic support, recording $28 million in fiscal year 2018.

  • The university opened Oak Hall, the Recreation and Wellness Center, the Science Learning Building, the Patient Care Center, and Anheuser-Busch Hall. UMSL also completed a renovation of Benton Hall and opened a facility in Grand Center that serves as the home to St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU. Those new construction and major renovation projects totaled more than $153 million. George also helped secure $14 million to redesign Natural Bridge Road, which runs through the heart of the UMSL campus.

  • UMSL welcomed the world headquarters of Express Scripts Inc. – now Cigna – onto its campus, and the resulting partnership has blossomed to include support for the UMSL Bridge Program and scholarships for students.

  • UMSL expanded its reach globally, growing its relationship with Gulf University of Science and Technology in Kuwait and adding partnerships with international universities such as Nanjing University in China, the Modern College of Business and Science in Oman and Osmania University in India.