Column: ‘Temporary’ is not synonymous with ‘weak’

Interims are a sign of change and soon-to-come prosperity

Having so many interim leaders attempting to fulfill the immediate needs of MU may make it seem like MU is falling apart, but in reality, it is building itself back up.

MU is currently home to 15 interim administrators as well as an interim Missouri Students Association president and vice president. The public’s reaction to the number of interims at MU has been mostly negative, as people see it as a failure. It’s as if when people hear the word “interim,” they hear the word “weakness.”

Although several of these temporary administrators took their place as a result of the downfall of the several former leaders, MU should not be embarrassed by these new interims. Interim leaders show the power of growth, change and flexibility; all qualities MU should be proud to exercise during moments of difficulty.

One of the reasons interims could contribute to positive change is their unique ability to make sizable changes without the pressure of losing their jobs. Since the people who are temporarily stepping into these positions are aware of their impermanence, they have an opportunity to make bold statements and decisions.

This ability to be courageous in MU politics could help this campus make progress professionally and socially, which has been a need that many MU students have made clear is not meeting their standards.

Another way interims could help MU prosper is through their ambition. A person with the drive to accept a leadership position at essentially a moment’s notice is, most of the time, a person who already has the skills that are essential for creating change. For instance, according to previous Maneater reporting, Chancellor Emeritus Brady Deaton described the interim role in an email as dependent on “personal commitment, understanding of issues and respect from others.”

It is easy to focus on the insufficiency of prior leadership, consequently influencing the opinion of what an interim could provide. The strength and power of an interim should not be questioned because of their status as a “replacement.” Instead, the judgment of an interim should be done the same as any permanent leader.

Although these people are temporary, they are essentially given the same amount of power and duties as someone who would be working the position permanently. A campus searching for positive transition should not allow itself to have tunnel vision when it comes to the idea of the word “interim.” Rather, it should be about imagining a bigger picture, which is what interim position holders are able to do. They have an unmatched ability to see the long term for MU, rather than for themselves.

Interims are here to be a funnel for student voices, and that is the journey that most interims expect to embark on when they accept their position. Give them a chance to push this campus to its next step in its ever-growing success.

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