College of Arts and Science Dean Michael O’Brien to leave MU

O’Brien has been named interim provost at Texas A&M-San Antonio.
Headshot of Dean Michael O’Brien. Photo courtesy of Dean O’Brien’s office

After working at MU for close to 40 years, College of Arts and Science Dean Michael O’Brien is leaving to become interim provost at Texas A&M-San Antonio, effective July 15, according to an email Tuesday from Provost Garnett Stokes announcing O’Brien’s resignation.

“We’re indebted to Mike for his work in the college and his leadership as he directed the largest college at MU for 10 years,” Stokes said in the email. “During his 36 years of service at Mizzou, Mike has influenced countless MU students, faculty and staff as well as the public, and I want to thank him for his service and dedication.”

In a press release Wednesday, TAMUSA President Cynthia Teniente-Matson said that she was pleased with O’Brien’s hiring.

“I am delighted that we were able to recruit the high-caliber talent and leadership experience of Dr. O’Brien,” Teniente-Matson said in the email. “His appointment will sustain the momentum we have built as we advance the goals of A&M–San Antonio’s Comprehensive Expansion strategic plan.”

According to the press release, O’Brien’s status is considered interim until the TAMUSA Board of Regents reviews his appointment, which it is expected to do in September.

O’Brien said in the press release that he is looking forward to his new role.

“I am honored to have been asked to work with President Matson, the deans, and the faculty in this role,” he said. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with my colleagues across the university to advance our academic programs. This is an exciting time to be at A&M-San Antonio.”

According to TAMUSA’s website, O’Brien was one of two finalists who visited the school in mid-May to make a presentation and answer questions during a public forum.

Coming to MU in 1980, O’Brien served as a professor of anthropology and director of the American Archaeology division. He was named associate dean of the College of Arts and Science in 1986 and also served as director of the Museum of Anthropology before becoming dean in 2006.

In her email, Stokes said that under O’Brien’s management, the College of Arts and Science has raised $53 million in two years. Additionally, she said, O’Brien has advocated for MU being involved in the Association of American Universities.

“Mike also worked with faculty, staff and students to create a broad understanding of the importance of MU’s status as a member of the Association of American Universities, the nation’s premier group of public and private research institutions,” Stokes said in the email.

O’Brien received his bachelor’s degree from Rice University in 1972 and his doctoral degree from the University of Texas in 1977.

O’Brien is the third MU dean to resign in a week. On May 24, the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Dean Tom Payne announced his retirement. On May 27, the School of Law Dean Gary Myers announced his resignation.

Stokes said that a national search will be conducted to hire O’Brien’s successor. In the meantime, she said in the email, she will seek input from the MU community to find an interim dean.

“Please join me in wishing him the best as he takes on this new position; we will miss him,” Stokes said in the email.

Edited by George Roberson |

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