Who will be next UM president? It’s all speculation

The curators’ search for the next UM system president starts Thursday.

Since former UM System President Gary Forsee’s Jan. 7 resignation, speculation has been high as to who his successor will be. Politicians’ and businessmen’s names are often brought up in the process, and, if former searches for the university’s next leader are any indication, could continue to be talked up during the search.

Several names could be brought to the table when the UM System Board of Curators meets Thursday to begin searching for Forsee’s replacement, but chairman Warren Erdman said they would remain confidential throughout the process, which has typically taken about one year in the past.

“It would be my intent that we protect the confidentiality of candidates to express their interest,” Erdman said at the Jan. 7 meeting. “But at the same token, this is a big decision that affects the University of Missouri and the state of Missouri and it is one that I would intend to have an all-inclusive role for faculty and staff much as we did last time around.”

Although no one has declared his or her intention to pursue the job, nor have any curators mentioned potential candidates, several big names in Missouri politics and higher education have either been considered in previous UM System president searches, tossed around by media outlets or are qualified for the position based on previous picks. The following three people are among these names:

Former U.S. senator Kit Bond, R-MO

A longtime advocate of the UM System, Bond’s name came up in discussions during the curators’ last UM System president search.

For four terms as a senator, 24 years, Bond was responsible for funneling millions of dollars to the system through federal earmarks. With Bond out of office after choosing not to run for a fifth term, the university could consider offering Bond something in return: a job as the face of the university.

Speculation aside, Bond expressed no desire to pursue the job when asked in 2007, and he is now working at a law firm. Bond did not return a phone call left at his office.

John Carney

Chancellor of the Missouri University of Science and Technology John Carney has spent five years as the head of his campus.

In January 2010, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education recognized Carney with a prestigious leadership award, citing his positive influence on the campus. Carney can also list his school’s name change — from UM – Rolla to what it’s known as now — as one of his accomplishments as chancellor.

The idea of Carney’s promotion to the position of UM System president also seems more feasible when considering that a former Missouri S&T chancellor, Martin Jischke, left the campus in 1991 to become the president of Iowa State University, and later, Purdue University.

Kathy Osborn

In an effort to bring in a candidate with a background in both higher education and business, the curators could consider Regional Business Council Executive Director Kathy Osborn. Considering the fact that the UM System presidency has never been filled by a woman, the curators could break ground with her selection as UM System president.

Osborn spearheaded the consortium shortly after leaving her post as Vice Chancellor of University Relations at UM – St. Louis.

When Forsee was chosen as president, some looked highly upon his background in business, but his lack of educational experience was panned by others. The curators could see Osborn as someone who brings the best of both worlds.

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