Presidential search committee approves position profile

Search firm partner John Isaacson: “We call them, we send them an email, we open a dialogue, we have a conversation. And we put this text in front of them and ask them to engage us on the substance.”

Including nine “opportunities and challenges” of the UM System but not expanding on the qualifications desired in the next UM System president, a “position profile” document was approved by the presidential search committee on Wednesday with search firm Isaacson Miller. This document will be used to attract potential candidates and entice them to apply.

“We call them, we send them an email, we open a dialogue, we have a conversation,” Isaacson Miller partner John Isaacson said. “And we put this text in front of them and ask them to engage us on the substance.”

The committee, which met via teleconference, made minor wording changes to the document, and it will be finalized within the next few days.

The position profile document includes sections such as a history of the four-campus system, the list of qualifications desired in the next president and opportunities and challenges presented by the presidency.

When explaining that the UM System is looking for “new and strong leadership,” the document mentions the fall semester.

“In the last few years, the system and its campuses have lived, like many other universities in the nation, through racial tension, student protest, and leadership turnover, especially at the University of Missouri-Columbia campus,” the position profile document read. “Important grievances surfaced and the University has moved deliberately to address them.”

The committee also discussed ways to pitch the job to make it desirable to potential candidates. Isaacson encouraged the group to think about what they could say in a few sentences to “make a case” for why people should apply.

Stephanie Shonekan, black studies chairwoman and faculty member of the committee, said she thinks mentioning the events of the fall will be important.

"I would definitely highlight upfront that the University of Missouri system is at the forefront of addressing the contemporary and current issues the students related to diversity on campuses," she said.

She later said that contrary to what some people say, the UM System did not experience a “disaster.”

"I would just like to make sure the flavor of the pitch is couched in a way that takes the elephant in the room and makes it a beautiful poodle," Shonekan said.

The group agreed it would be best to explain to candidates the contentious relationship the UM System has with the legislature instead of not mentioning it and leading candidates to find out incorrect information elsewhere. Curator Donald Cupps tried to put a positive spin on the situation.

“Last year we had more problems than a run-over dog, and we still got a 4 percent increase,” Cupps said.

Isaacson encouraged the members of the search committee to reach out and encourage people they think would make good candidates to apply. He also warned committee members to not show favoritism nor promise a candidate anything.

Within the next few weeks, candidates will begin to be identified and nominated as the search firms builds the candidate pool.

Edited by Nancy Coleman | ncoleman@themaneater.com

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