Presidential search committee approves qualification statement

Advertisements, op-eds and videos have been published in recent months to boost the UM System’s image.
UM System Curator John Phillips listens to interim Chancellor Hank Foley during the curators meeting Feb. 5 at Reynolds Alumni Center. The search committee for the new UM System president approved the qualification statement during the curators meeting in Rolla, Mo.

An understanding of higher education was at the top of the UM System’s presidential search committee’s qualifications statement approved on Thursday during the first day of the UM System Board of Curators meeting held at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The qualifications statement was drafted by the search committee following four open forums on each UM System campus in which constituents provided input about what they wish to see in the next president. Each qualification will be expanded upon at a later date to form a detailed document that the search firm, Isaacson, Miller, will use to recruit candidates.

Curator John Phillips complimented the search committee on their work of forming the comprehensive list.

“They did a pretty incredible job of pulling together the thoughts heard (at the forums) and the thoughts that I had,” Phillips said.

The search committee, which consists of the six curators, two faculty members, one staff member and one student, approved the statement after discussing the draft and making three amendments.

Among the qualifications listed in the statement is the “demonstrated business judgment to foster continuous performance improvement and accountability.”

Following the resignation of former President Tim Wolfe, it has been debated whether someone with a strong business background should be hired. During the approval of the qualifications statement, the debate continued about how specific the search committee should be in defining its wants with business and politics.

Phillips thought the search committee’s stance about business acumen should be better explained. Curator Phillip Snowden felt that the statement did not address the importance of having knowledge of politics.

“I didn’t see anything in there where it specifically said dealing in the political realm or with the legislature or dealing with political bodies,” Snowden said.

Higher education was a main player on the statement.

One of the qualifications listed is someone who has a “fluency in, and a passion and respect for, the culture of public higher education and the System’s unique mission.”

Other qualifications desired in the next president include a “deft command” in communicating and being a “tireless advocate and relationship builder.”

James Whitaker, the co-chair of the search committee, said in the news release that the open forums enabled the search committee to create high-level expectations. Cheryl Walker, the other co-chair, echoed Whitaker’s beliefs.

“We were very pleased with the engagement of the university community when we hosted open forums on each UM System campus,” Walker said in the release. “We feel the fruitful, candid conversations brought forth a comprehensive list of suggestions for future candidates to be sought by the search firm.”

University Relations

During their meeting, the curators also heard from UM System Vice President for University Relations Steve Knorr, who discussed what had been done at a system level over the past few months to “rebuild the UM System’s image.”

“Our proactive media continues to be one of the most efficient ways to get our message out statewide,” Knorr said.

He said that over the past months, 102 advertisements, 12 op-eds and a video explaining the UM System have been published. Throughout the next five months, 12 more videos will be published detailing the structure, budget and history of the four-campus system. In addition, he said, alumni and constituents have written positive letters to the editors and advocated for the UM System.

Knorr thinks the efforts have been successful, given the legislature’s decision to boost funding to the university system after threatening to cut the budget.

“Our goal is to have a unified voice with a strong message and a great story, and I think we’ve been able to execute that over the last few months,” Knorr said.

Steelman called the legislature’s decision to not cut the budget a “gift” and thanked Knorr for his efforts in putting out a positive image of the UM System.

“I think it’s also important for the university community, not just the administration, but this includes faculty, specifically, and students, to be grateful for those actions,” Steelman said.

Addition of academic programs

The board also approved two new academic programs, a Master's of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis at MU and a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Arts at UMKC.

Steven Graham, the senior associate vice president for Academic Affairs for the UM System, said the Applied Behavior Analysis program will train behavior analysts to work with people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and related neurodevelopmental disorders.

“I think this is a real need because we’ve seen a dramatic increase with students who’ve been identified with autism spectrum disorders,” Graham said.

The program will be housed within the School of Health Professions and will be in collaboration with the College of Education and Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Edited by Taylor Blatchford |

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