20 members join search for new UM System president

The committee met for the first time Friday.

Representatives from MU will fill six of the 20 spots in the newly formed UM System presidential search committee’s advisory panel.

“These members were nominated from their various groups and campuses,” UM System Board of Curators Chairman Warren Erdman said. “They represent a wide variety of stakeholders of the university, and were all nominated through a wide variety of their constituent nomination organizations.”

The advisory committee consists of alumni, retirees, faculty, management and student government leaders. The committee appointed some by the virtue of their office, and Erdman selected several others based on their nominations.

Jordan Paul, Intercampus Student Council vice chairman and former Missouri Students Association president, was chosen as one of two students to participate in the committee.

“We're not entirely sure what we're looking for," Paul said. "That's part of the point of the town hall forums. We're going to sit down after those and try and reach a general consensus about what we'd like to see. My initial thoughts, personally, are that I like the business-savvy aspects.”

In the midst of Friday’s thunderstorm, the committee met via teleconference. The majority of this meeting was conducted in closed session.

At Friday’s meeting, Erdman laid down strict guidelines for the committee concerning the search process’ confidentiality. Members were instructed to forward all media inquiries to the university’s communications department.

“They have certain confidentiality requirements, and of course each one will decide how they want to handle these themselves,” Erdman said.

This is in an effort to keep the candidates’ names completely secret, Erdman said.

“Many of the best presidential candidates are currently employed elsewhere,” Erdman said. “If their name is made public, it could jeopardize their employment. The best candidates might not even allow themselves to be considered if they know that they aren’t going to be held in confidence.”

A day prior, the system held the first of its seven forums intended to gauge public interest on presidential qualifications in Portageville. The second meeting was held Monday at UM — St. Louis. Another meeting is scheduled for March 14 at the Reynolds Alumni Center.

MSA President Eric Woods encouraged students to attend Thursday’s forum even if they have nothing to say. He said their presence alone will show their concern for the search.

“We are the university,” Woods said. “The System relies on our tuition for more than half of its revenues. If this is a person who is going to be administering us, we want to make sure this person has the students in mind. I think we’ve been spoiled the last couple years with Gary Forsee who has been a huge advocate for students. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be spoiled.”

Erdman requested the advisory committee members attend at least one of these meetings, and preferably their own regional forum. He hopes these forums will result in a greater comprehensive opinion of the qualities the System president should embody.

As for what exactly these qualities are, Erdman has one he thinks is most important.

“A passion for the University of Missouri,” Erdman said.

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