Former professor assumes new office with a student-centric approach
By Chloe Salveson, Show Manager
During winter break, longtime history professor Dr. Rachel Chrastil was named the next Provost and Chief Academic Officer, assuming office on Jan. 1 with a hopeful and enthusiastic outlook for the university’s future.
The Provost and Chief Academic Officer is one of the foremost positions at the university. In her new role, Chrastil is responsible for ensuring students’ academic success and wellness by overseeing the academic quality in all four colleges at Xavier. She works with and reports directly to Dr. Colleen Hanycz, president.
“Even just in the first few days that I’ve been in the office, I’ve been able to be in so many different circles and try to bridge so many different constituencies, important people and conversations. It’s a privilege, and I hope to honor all those different groups of people in this work,” Chrastil said.
Chrastil emphasized her main focus in her new position is improving the student experience.
“The biggest priority for me right now is how can we help students who come to Xavier stay at Xavier and get the degree they came for,” Chrastil said.
“I cannot wait to see students at commencement, whether they are undergraduate, graduate students or even our APEX adult learners. We are thrilled to have all those different student populations here, and I want them to get what they came for,” she added.
Chrastil came to Xavier as an assistant history professor in 2005 and was named professor in 2017. She explained that her teaching experience has amplified her devotion to the Xavier student community.
“My last class of students for me was a special moment, and I relished every second of it,” she said.
Sophomore Philosophy, Politics and the Public major Sam Skelley was one of Chrastil’s students last semester.
“Dr. Chrastil was a really engaging professor who made me excited to come to her class every day. You could tell that she was passionate about ensuring that her students actually understand the material instead of just being there to get credit,” Skelley said. “So, I am confident that she will be an invaluable asset to the university as academic provost,” he concluded.
Not only does Chrastil have a passion for teaching, but she is also a distinguished author. She has written Organizing for War: France, 1870-1914, The Siege of Strasbourg and How to Be Childless: A History and Philosophy of Life Without Children.
Chrastil’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, Psychology Today, Cincinnati Edition, New Books Network and the podcast Think Act Be.
In addition to her writing, Chrastil has worn several hats during her stint at Xavier.
She was the founding director of the First-Year Seminar program in 2015, served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on a rotating term from 2017 to 2020, oversaw Xavier’s Take It On initiative and led the 2021 affirmation of accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission.
In addition, Chrastil led the academic team on the COVID-19 Task Force in collaboration with faculty and staff across the university. She is currently working with the force in a different capacity.
“The COVID-19 Task Force is what has allowed me to have a really broad set of experiences and set of perspectives. So, when I’m making decisions, I’m going to have more insight into different areas of the university and have relationships across the university,” Chrastil stated.
In an article posted on Xavier’s website, Dr. Hanycz expressed her excitement regarding Dr. Chrastil’s appointment.
“I am pleased to share that Dr. Rachel Chrastil has accepted the role of Provost and Chief Academic Officer,” Hanycz said. “Dr. Chrastil has a unique set of leadership experiences for this distinctive time at Xavier. As we head into our strategic planning process, Dr. Chrastil will play an important role in bringing forward new ideas for Xavier’s future.”