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UMKC chancellor resigns

Dec. 7, 2004

Four down, none to go.

Martha Gilliland, University of Missouri-Kansas City chancellor, announced Friday her decision to resign as chancellor effective Dec. 31.

With Gilliland's resignation, the chancellors at all four UM system campuses will have changed since UM system President Elson Floyd took the reins in late 2002.

In a statement, Gilliland said she resigned because UMKC needed to move forward without distraction.

"I believe it is in the best interest of the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of this great institution for me to step aside at this time," Gilliland said. "Recent events have placed me in the spotlight, and it is best for UMKC's future to move forward without such distraction."

Gilliland will continue at UMKC as a tenured professor in the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering.

UM system spokesman Joe Moore said Gilliland made her decision to resign independently. Previously, the UM system Board of Curators planned to meet Friday to talk about "matters of personnel." Some speculated Gilliland was the subject of discussion.

"She retained the right to resign, and she did," Moore said.

Mary James, UM system Board of Curators president, praised Gilland's work and accomplishments.

"I commend Chancellor Gilliland's efforts to promote strong and effective partnerships between the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Kansas City metropolitan area," James stated in a news release.

UMKC professor of law Ed Hood said Gilliland's main problem was her relations with the faculty at UMKC.

"She had good relations with the business community, but she had a lot of difficulty leading the faculty," Hood said. "Her relationships with the faculty were very poor."

Hood compared the duties of a chancellor to a three-legged stool. He said if one leg was missing, the other two served no purpose.

"A new chancellor has to do basically three things: develop good relations with businesses, the students and the faculty," Hood said "You have to develop good relations with all of them in order to effectively lead."

Gilliland, who was appointed chancellor in 2000, said she was grateful for the support she received from the community.

"Together we have achieved great things, and I am confident the university will maintain the same momentum into the future," Gilliland said.

Hood said he was not particularly happy about the resignation, but thought it was a necessary move.

"I have mixed feelings" she did a lot of good for the university," Hood said. "Nobody is pleased when you have this kind of situation."

Floyd said in a statement that he will be dividing his time between Columbia and Kansas City during the months of January and February. He will make a decision about an interim chancellor at that time.

"I will work closely with students, faculty, administrators, staff and the Kansas City community in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition of leadership," Floyd said. "I will do everything I can to continue the unprecedented interaction between the UMKC campus and the Kansas City community."

Floyd sparked controversy this fall when he hired MU Chancellor Brady Deaton. Students and faculty had been told to expect a public search, but the decision was made behind closed doors.

Moore said Floyd has not decided whether to do an internal or national chancellor search, and he should decide by early 2005.

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