President, Rockhurst University
Sandra Cassady, Ph.D., began her tenure as the 15th president of Rockhurst University on June 27, 2022, the first lay and woman president in the institution’s history.
Cassady’s 30-year career in higher education includes roles both as a member of faculty and in administration at St. Ambrose University, a comprehensive Catholic university enrolling over 3,000 students in Davenport, IA. She served as a full-time faculty member in the physical therapy department at St. Ambrose for more than a decade, receiving several awards for teaching, research and service. Cassady is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association; a fellow in the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation; and served as past editor for the Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal and past associate editor for the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sport Physical Therapy.
In addition to a distinguished academic career, Cassady held numerous administrative roles at St. Ambrose, including director of physical therapy, associate dean, and associate vice president for academic and student affairs. Most recently, Cassady served as vice president for strategic initiatives and dean of the institution’s College of Health and Human Services. In these roles, she led the development of new academic programs across the university and provided oversight for undergraduate, graduate and transfer admissions, advising and academic student services. Her leadership led to an increase in enrollment in health and human services programs and the securing of grant and gifts to support capital campaigns, capital investments, student scholarships, technology, and equipment.
Since 2003, Cassady has served as a member of the Higher Learning Commission’s peer review corps, the Institutional Actions Council, and the Specialized Review Corps, dealing with complex issues faced by institutions of higher education such as mergers, acquisitions and change of control.
Cassady holds a Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Northern Iowa and a Certificate, Master’s degree in physical therapy and Ph.D. in exercise science all from the University of Iowa. She holds a graduate certificate in fundraising management from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.