New UM System president to be announced Wednesday

Reports say the new president is Mun Y. Choi, the University of Connecticut’s provost.

The 24th UM System president will be named Wednesday morning, according to a UM System news release.

According to reports by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the new president is Mun Y. Choi, the provost at the University of Connecticut. Before becoming provost, Choi was the dean of engineering and a professor of mechanical engineering. UM System spokesman John Fougere declined to confirm this.

Faculty Council Chairman Ben Trachtenberg said he has not met with Choi, but said if Choi is the chosen president, he looks forward to hearing his ideas.

“If he does turn out to be the next president, I look forward to meeting him and discussing his vision for the future of the university,” Trachtenberg said.

Choi would be the UM System’s first Asian president, and the UM System’s third minority president — Manuel Pacheco served as the first Latino president from 1997–2002 and Elson Floyd served as the first black president from 2003–2007. He would also be the first president with an academic background in 10 years. The two most recent UM System presidents, Tim Wolfe and Gary Forsee, both had business backgrounds.

Choi received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his doctoral degree from Princeton. He served as a post-doctoral fellow for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. As a professor, he taught at the University of Illinois and Drexel University before joining the University of Connecticut in 2008. At Drexel, he was the department head of mechanical engineering and associate dean for research. Choi has developed a number of outreach and educational programs, according to his biography on the University of Connecticut’s website, and his current research is focused on “advancing the understanding of sooting and radiation on droplet combustion and soot diagnostic techniques.”

The announcement comes almost a year after former UM System President Tim Wolfe resigned on Nov. 9, 2015, amid faculty and student pressure following a series of racist incidents that took place on campus.

MU and the UM System made national news after student group Concerned Student 1950 published a list of demands, graduate student Jonathan Butler went on a hunger strike, and the football team began a boycott of all football-related activities. Wolfe’s resignation was one of the group’s demands.

In November 2015, the University of Connecticut had its own troubles: a $40 million budget deficit. UConn discussed raising tuition, and Choi cautioned against an increase in tuition being a fix-all solution.

“We can’t raise tuition to a level to meet all of the deficit that we have,” Choi said, according to UConn’s student newspaper, The Daily Campus. “Tuition increase is a component to address the situation that we are facing.”

Faculty wrote a letter to Choi concerned about potential cuts to the library, a problem MU is also currently facing. Choi agreed with the faculty.

“The last thing that we want to cut is the library,” Choi said, according to The Daily Caller.

MU’s libraries have been through a tumultuous year. Following a failed library fee referendum, the libraries have had to make cuts of their own, including to their hours and collections.

MU overall has had its own budget troubles recently — due to a decrease in enrollment, the university has a $32 million shortfall which has resulted in a hiring freeze and a 5 percent budget cut for every department.

The president will be officially named at 9:30 a.m. in Jefferson City at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. The announcement will be live-streamed on the UM System’s website.

Edited by Katie Rosso |

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