The Maneater

First permanent UM System president in 15 months starts role today

Mun Choi is the first Asian president in UM System history.

UM System President Mun Y. Choi speaks at his welcome reception on Dec. 1, 2016.

Mun Y. Choi officially stepped into his role as UM System president Wednesday.

When selected for the UM System presidency post, Choi was the University of Connecticut’s provost, a role he served in from 2012 until Feb. 1.

Choi is serving in a position that Mike Middleton had filled as an interim since former UM System President Tim Wolfe resigned on Nov. 9, 2015. Pam Henrickson, the former UM System Board of Curators chairwoman, announced the selection of Choi on Nov. 2, 2016.

One of Choi’s first decisions regarding MU leadership will come when he makes the final say on who becomes MU’s next chancellor. Middleton launched a nationwide search for a permanent chancellor in December. The position has been filled by interim Hank Foley for over a year, since former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned on the same day as Wolfe. Foley may permanently fill the position, as he has mentioned he’d like to drop the “interim” from his title. Choi and Foley have crossed paths in higher education before; Choi beat out Foley for the provost post at UConn.

Choi may have to decide on the selection of another UM System chancellor soon. According to a February St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, Missouri University of Science and Technology’s chancellor, Cheryl Schrader, is one of three finalists for Wright State University’s president.

According to previous Maneater reporting, faculty wanted a university president with an education background, which Choi has in his more than 24 years of higher education experience.

Choi has also dealt with budget cuts, something MU and the UM System are familiar with as of late. Gov. Eric Greitens cut $20 million from the MU budget in January. Weeks later, Greitens cut up to $40.4 million from the UM System’s fiscal year 2018 budget. At UConn, Choi oversaw a $40 million budget deficit.

Middleton sent an email note, with the subject “Thank you,” to the UM System on Monday. He reflected on his 15 months with positivity and optimism for the future.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to witness our university come together and I know the future is bright with Dr. Choi as our next president. I hope you will welcome him and work together to take this university to new heights.”

Edited by Anna Sirianni | asirianni@themaneater.com

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