Helfrich currently serves as the interim dean of the Patton College of Education at Ohio University, where she oversees four departments: Counseling and Higher Education; Recreation, Sport Pedagogy and Consumer Sciences; Educational Studies; and Teacher Education. In this role, she oversees 125 faculty and staff at six campuses, serving nearly 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. She received a Ph.D. in Instruction and Learning, Reading Education Cognate from the University of Pittsburgh.

“Dr. Helfrich has extensive curricular development, accreditation and grant funding experience that will be great assets as she leads the new school and promotes student, faculty and staff success,” said Jennifer Lundgren, Ph.D., UMKC provost and executive vice chancellor. “We welcome her to our UMKC family, and thank Interim Dean Carolyn Barber for her leadership the past three academic years.”

Helfrich looks forward to becoming the inaugural dean of the school.

“I’m excited to be leading the UMKC School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences,” Helfrich said. “The vision for the school and its programs directly aligns with my dedication to educating and supporting teachers, school administrators, counselors and researchers in our mission to meet people where they are and ensure that they have the tools they need for personal and professional success.”

Helfrich received praise for her leadership at Ohio University.

"Sara Helfrich advocated strongly and successfully for the Gladys W. And David H. Patton College of Education as interim dean, said Elizabeth Sayrs, Ph.D., Ohio University executive vice president and provost. “I deeply value her strategic vision, commitment to faculty and students, and outstanding leadership. I wish her continued success as inaugural dean of the UMKC School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences."