Asquith S. “Sean” Armstrong, executive director for continuing education at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, has been named dean of University College at Washington University in St. Louis, effective Nov. 1.
Armstrong succeeds Interim Deans Heather Corcoran, the Halsey C. Ives Professor of Art at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, and Pat Matthews, associate dean for academics at University College. He will report to Provost Beverly Wendland.
Armstrong, who has been in his current role at UCF since January 2020, designed programs, solutions and supports for students pursuing continuing education.
Most recently, he worked with UCF leadership and regional external partners in Florida to create a training program for workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, helping them realize pathways to new and sustainable job opportunities.
In his new role at Washington University, Armstrong will complete the transformation of University College, the university’s professional and continuing education division, as a school for continuing education with a greater focus on accessible pathways for economic mobility and career advancement for residents of the St. Louis region. This repositioning of University College is also designed to expand opportunities for partnerships and collaboration across all schools and units.
“Academic distinction is central to our teaching, learning and research mission. For this appointment, we sought a proven leader in both strategy and vision, one who could not only build on Heather’s and Pat’s tremendous successes, but also create new models for professional and continuing education at Washington University,” Wendland said. “We’ve found that leader in Sean Armstrong. His approach, which meshes creativity, community engagement and an entrepreneurial spirit, will be essential as we further enhance engaging and meaningful academic experience for our UCollege students — both existing and incoming.”
“We aim to make University College, and by extension, Washington University, more recognized and relevant for working adults in the region,” Corcoran said. “This is part of our commitment to St. Louis, and we are happy to have Dean Armstrong leading the charge to offer a WashU educational experience that’s more accessible, community-facing and career-focused.”
During his career spanning more than two decades, Armstrong has supported students at nearly every point of their educational journeys. He served as a public high school social studies teacher in Orlando, transitioned to an academic advisory role at Lake-Sumter Community College (now Lake-Sumter State College) and, in 2006, joined UCF as an academic administrator, where he has held a number of positions and leadership roles.
Armstrong’s commitment to the community is also clear: He serves as a planning committee member on the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference, the world’s largest modeling, simulation and training event. He is also a founding member of the Florida Prison Education Project, an initiative that provides higher education and training to incarcerated people in Florida.
“Joining the University College team is an incredible opportunity to build an innovative hub of engagement,” Armstrong said. “Through strategic partnerships, we can truly make Washington University for St. Louis by creating an educational gateway that leads to transformational workforce opportunities for our community.”
Armstrong begins his deanship at a crucial time for University College, as it pivots toward a community-oriented, career-focused education approach that will provide reimagined programs for career advancement and enrichment, including divisions in data, health and health care, and management and administration. It also will have new opportunities for students to complete programs within the liberal arts. Undergraduate and graduate students will continue to be served.
“In addition to welcoming Dean Armstrong to WashU, I also want to take this opportunity to thank our search committee, chaired by Dean Bobick,” Wendland said. “This position is crucial to our institutional commitment to the St. Louis region. We were fortunate to have an especially strong pool of applicants, and the search committee did a wonderful job helping us select Dean Armstrong. I also want to thank Hank Webber, who was not only instrumental in this search process but also played a key role in helping to solidify the vision for University College.”
Armstrong earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, a master’s in public administration in public personnel management from Troy University in Troy, Ala., and a doctorate in higher education and policy studies from UCF.