Two recent appointees bring more diversity to Board of Curators

Pamela Henrickson, who was appointed Friday, will serve as the board’s second female member.

Six of the nine members of the UM System Board of Curators all fit the same profile. They’re men, and they’re white.

But, recent appointments indicate a change in the makeup of the board. David Steward, serving District 2 since earlier this year, is black. Friday, Gov. Jay Nixon appointed a second woman to the board, Pamela Henrickson, a lawyer from Jefferson City.

Henrickson said the board should represent the larger body of people involved in the UM System -- the students, faculty, alumni and Missouri residents.

“Gender and race play a part in people’s viewpoints, but they’re not the only factors that affect people’s viewpoints,” she said. “If you look at economic backgrounds, geographic backgrounds, educational backgrounds, all of those levels of diversity should be considered.”

Henrickson will represent District 4, currently held by Doug Russell, who has served since 2005. Her term will expire Jan. 1, 2017.

Henrickson earned her undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University and a degree in law from MU.

Noor Azizan-Gardner, director for Programming and Professional Development in the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative, said MU patrons have been seeking increased diversity on the Board of Curators for years.

“I think that’s always been something many, many people would like to see,” she said. “We’ve had several faculty, staff and students point out to us. It’s really important to see that the University of Missouri has a diverse board of curators that represents the diversity of the state.”

The first woman to serve on the board, Mrs. Henry J. Haskell, was appointed in 1941. Since then, 14 women, including current member Judith Haggard and appointee Henrickson, have been selected for the Board of Curators.

“It’s looking pretty good so far considering that 10, 15 years ago, the board looked very different from what the board looks like now,” Director of Diversity Programming Noor Azizan-Gardner said.

Evidence supporting the benefits of having a diverse board of directors, Azizan-Gardner said, can be found by examining some of the most successful companies in the country. She said when people of different backgrounds gather, innovation often results.

“If you look at a lot of boards of trustees from the very elite private schools, you see that they’re very diverse,” she said. “Something can be said about a very diverse board of trustees or board of curators that will provide a much more innovative or creative governance.”

Nixon said in a news release that Henrickson will join the board in overseeing operations throughout the UM System. The governor’s office could not be reached for comment.

“I am pleased to appoint Pam Henrickson to this important board that guides the University of Missouri system,” Nixon said in the release. “The board faces many crucial decisions ahead as the universities in the system continue to provide a top-notch education to their students.”

Azizan-Gardner said Henrickson’s appointment moves the UM System in the right direction to collaborate ideas from a diverse group to solve important problems in today’s world.

“I think one of our responsibilities as stewards of the citizens of Missouri is that we make the right kind of universities that everybody here would be really proud of,” she said. “The research we do here, the services that we provide should provide hopefully the knowledge and solutions to some of our most critical problems of the 21st century."

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