Administrators keep lips sealed on UM System presidential search

The committee is still considering recommendations for the position.

The presidential search committee for the next UM System president began interviewing candidates after listening to public input and building a candidate pool, UM System spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said in an email.

She said the Board of Curators continues to receive requests for individuals to be evaluated and the position is still open.

The board does not have a timeline dictating when the official decision will be announced. The presidential search committee outlined 12 skills the candidates must have to be considered for the job. Included on the list are the abilities to cultivate strategic relationships with academic, political and business leaders and have a strong knowledge base to lead a complex university system.

“This continues to be an open process, with a number of recommendations still coming our way,” she said. “The search committee’s role continues to be to find and interview candidates who meet the criteria we set.”

Missouri Students Association President Eric Woods said he hopes to see the presidential role filled by an individual whose goal is to serve the best interest of students.

“If we could really get a person in that office who is sympathetic to the needs of students, who listens to the student voice, they can be a great ally in getting some of those system-wide initiatives accomplished,” he said. “We’re looking for someone, hoping to have someone, who can help us do that in the future.”

Woods said key issues like domestic partnership benefits and reforms to the student code of conduct are important to MSA, and ones the next president can advocate for.

“Ultimately, the president doesn’t have the ability to make those decisions, the Board of Curators has to vote on system-wide changes,” he said. “But the president is someone who has a lot of influence, a lot of sway, and can convince people on the curators level or on the legislative level in the state to look at these issues more closely.”

Woods said having a student curator on the board who can influence UM System decisions, a primary focus of MSA efforts in recent years, would benefit from an endorsement from the next president.

“The student is able to attend all the meetings and basically serve the same function and have all the same privileges in terms of information, meetings and all of that as the other curators, but they do not currently get to vote,” he said. “We really feel like as a major stakeholder in the university system and as a primary people for which the university serves, especially given that our tuition goes to fund it, that there is a definite need for that student vote.”

Woods said the UM System would benefit from a president similar to former president Gary Forsee, who left the position Jan. 7.

“Forsee was a very good listener, someone who didn’t rush to judgment, didn’t make harsh decisions,” Woods said. “He came from a business world where you had to evaluate all the facts, check out the data, make a decision that was best, not just in the short run but in the long run for your entire enterprise. He brought that critical thinking mindset of a CEO to the system, but he was also someone who was very personable, very friendly and interested in all aspects of the system.”

Numerous representatives from the presidential search committee declined to comment on the progress of the search.

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