As a first-generation college student, Provost Brian Foster never imagined his career playing out as it did.
“I went to undergraduate school in my late 20s, and I had no idea what I was getting into,” Foster said. “I literally could not have imagined the life I’ve had because I didn’t know what it was.”
Throughout his 30-year career, Foster had experiences all over the United States.
Prior to MU, Foster held the provost position at the University of New Mexico. Before that, he was the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He started his career as graduate dean at Arizona State University, as well as being the chairman of anthropology for ASU.
Foster has also spent time in Thailand doing anthropology research.
For the last nine years, Foster has called MU his home.
“He’s brought a tremendous national perspective on what we do here,” Chancellor Brady Deaton said. “He also works to extend the university throughout the state. He’s made a big contribution.”
One of Foster’s lasting contributions is Mizzou Advantage, developed to help the university compete with top schools. The program focuses on strengthening the university’s human and animal health programs, media, energy and food production departments.
“We compete with the very best; we’re a very high-quality school,” Foster said. “But we don’t have the same critical mass. So for us to compete successfully in this world of the very best of high education, we have to choose the areas where we have really notable strengths.”
Along with Mizzou Advantage, Foster has been working to help connect the university with community colleges across the state.
“The thing that’s so important to me is that we do things that they can’t do, and they do things that we can’t do,” Foster said. “But when we come together, we can do things that neither of us could do alone.”
Foster plans to bring his nine-year career as provost to a close, retiring Jan. 1, 2014. He said he plans to spend more time with his wife and grandchildren, as well as have more time to pursue anthropology research.
He still plans on working part-time for the university.
Deaton said Foster’s presence will be missed.
“I’m going to miss him,” he said. “I fully understand in regards to his personal and professional reasons, but he was a great asset to the university.”
Until Foster’s replacement is chosen, Deputy Provost Kenneth Dean will temporarily take the provost position. Dean has been the associate dean of the School of Law for 20 years and has served as the deputy provost for more than seven years.
Dean said he feels both of these positions have helped give him academic experience and will help to assist him as the temporary provost.
“My goal is to maintain and strengthen our academic programs during this time of transition,” Dean said. “We cannot afford to lose the momentum that has been created over the past several years.”
While Foster’s colleagues are sad to see him go, they are also excited to see what the future holds based on the foundation that Foster’s work as provost laid.
“MU is lucky to have had Brian as provost,” Dean said. “He has been a good friend and mentor."