Search for UM system president comes to Columbia

10 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago April 06, 2016 Apr 6, 2016 Wednesday, April 06 2016 Wednesday, April 06, 2016 2:27:00 PM CDT in News
By: Zack Newman, KOMU 8 Digital Reporter

COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri-Columbia hosted an open forum Wednesday. The public meeting gave people the opportunity to say what traits or qualifications they desire in the next president of the University of Missouri system.

"We are at a turning point at Mizzou, and at a turning point it's important to get it right," said University of Missouri Interim Chancellor Dr. Hank Foley. "We have a long history that we have to celebrate and also confront."

Foley said he is looking for three characteristics in a system president.

"Someone who is impeccable in terms of integrity, someone who has a high intellect, and someone with high intensity and is willing to throw themselves into the job fully to do it well," Foley said.

The meeting was the third stop in the tour of universities within the system. On Monday, forums were held at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. A similar gathering was scheduled for Friday at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Cheryl Walker is a co-chair of the UM Presidential Search Committee. The Missouri S&T graduate and former UM System curator said a common desire expressed in previous forums was an emphasis on research.

“Oftentimes, people think of science and math when they think of research,” Walker said. “Many people spoke about making sure there is an appreciation for the entire fabric across all subject matters.”

According to statistics from the UM System available at the meeting, there are more than 70,000 students being educated within the four colleges. Walker said it’s important that the next president understands the differences between the four campuses.

“They want someone to appreciate the uniqueness of each campus as it relates to the whole,” she said. “There is a difference in learning and the needs of each campus.”

Dr. Jim Whitaker is the other co-chair of the UM Presidential Search Committee. He said someone with business experience is needed.

“The UM System is a big machine,” he said. “It is a big institution and someone needs to be skilled in budgetary matters and show competency and experience dealing with it.”

According to data from the UM System, it is a $3.1 billion enterprise and employs more than 17,700 people.

Walker and Whitaker are leading a 12-person committee tasked with finding the next president.

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