Timothy M. Wolfe selected as new UM System president

The MU alumnus said taking the position is a “special homecoming” for him and his family.
Tim Wolfe smiles after being given a round of applause following the announcement that he is the new University of Missouri System president. The announcement happened on Tuesday at the Reynolds Alumni Center on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus.

After gathering input from citizens across the state the Board of Curators has concluded the year-long search for the 23rd UM System president with the selection of Timothy Wolfe.

Board of Curators Chairman Warren Erdman made the announcement 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Reynolds Alumni Center to a crowd of faculty, students and alumni. Wolfe will replace interim President Stephen Owens, who took the position in January after former President Gary Forsee resigned.

“We’ve worked hard this year to continue the important work of the university in a quality fashion, to do it under team leadership with integrity and intellectual honesty, and to transition the university as smoothly as possible to the next president,” Owens said.

Wolfe said he considers his appointment to the position both an honor and a privilege.

“Serving this great university and our state is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and I commit my full attention and energy to this endeavor,” Wolfe said. “It is obvious to me, and it will be one of our goals to make it obvious to our fellow Missourians, that the University of Missouri System is the greatest asset in this state.”

Having grown up in Columbia, Wolfe graduated from Rock Bridge High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in personnel management in 1980 from the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business and currently serves on its Strategic Development Board. Wolfe also participated in Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program in 1995.

Professionally, Wolfe served as an executive for IBM for 20 years before becoming the executive vice president of global consulting company Covansys in 2000. He joined Novell in 2003 as its president of the Americas and left after its merger with Attachmate Corporation on April 27.

Erdman contacted Wolfe in early August about the position. Wolfe said he was flattered but had never previously considered following his parents, who were both involved with higher education. Wolfe’s father taught communications at MU’s College of Arts and Sciences, and his mother now teaches law at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover after earning four degrees at MU.

Wolfe said he did additional research after being approached about the position, but a conversation with Forsee most encouraged him to compete.

“Gary’s description of the opportunity to give back to your alma mater, as well as the potential to give more students the same opportunity that he and I enjoyed by attending the University of Missouri campus that set that strong and firm foundation in which we built our careers on … that conversation with Gary really was the difference-maker in me deciding to compete as vigorously as possible to be the next president of the University of Missouri System,” Wolfe said.

Erdman said he learned how much Wolfe cares for Missouri and the UM System through months of interviews and conversations.

“He is highly motivated to protect its great traditions and reputation and see it to even higher levels,” Erdman said. “He listens and respects the opinions of others (and) values their knowledge. He respects the unique role of each of our campuses and understands the nature of our strong campus system. He has passion, vision, experience and humility. He can sell to others the vital importance of our university.”

Wolfe said he plans to learn more about the UM System before beginning his three-year term by conducting extensive research, meeting with university officials and other key stakeholders and visiting campuses.

“It takes time (to learn) and I will need to take advantage of the incredible experience and knowledge that resides in our faculty, staff, students, alumni and donors, but I am up for the challenge,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said he recognizes the importance of student input and plans to engage in many student conversations while on UM System campuses.

“I am very much looking forward to talking to students and trying to understand how we’re doing in delivering a quality education to each and every student on the campuses we serve,” Wolfe said.

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