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July 25, 2013 Volume 34, No. 34

Attributes of the next MU chancellor

New Leadership

Staff and faculty offer hoped-for portrait of Deaton’s successor

Conducting an executive search for the top position of an institution is never easy. But that is the task for University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe, who hopes to find the successor to MU Chancellor Brady J. Deaton by his retirement Nov. 15. 

Wolfe is working with an executive search firm and is expected to announce this week the members of a chancellor’s search committee. 

But what attributes and accomplishments should the next chancellor have? 

Wolfe asked this question Monday at a public forum devoted to hearing views from faculty, staff and students on the chancellor’s search. The next public forum is 10–11 a.m. today in Memorial Union’s Jesse Wrench Auditorium. 

Following a national trend in executive searches, the UM System will not publicly identify candidates because of the sensitivity of the matter. However, input gathered at public forums and other ways will be considered as the search progresses.

The search is being conducted by the same California firm used this year to fill the system’s position of vice president of academic affairs. Wolfe said the current search will be the system’s most comprehensive in more than a decade. 

Complicating the search is that, along with MU, Ohio State, Penn State, the University of Michigan and the University of Florida are also seeking candidates for top roles. 

Though internal candidates will be considered, Wolfe said that the breadth of experience required of the new chancellor means that top external candidates will be looked at closely. Wolfe expects executives from other institutions within the Association of American Universities to show interest. 

Among a candidate’s traits are understanding MU’s role as a public land-grant and research institution in Missouri; a clear fundraising vision in a time when state dollars for higher education are ebbing; and the ability to further the university’s research status globally, Wolfe said. 

But the president refrained from going further. Most of the hour-long meeting in Jesse Auditorium was devoted to listening to what the campus community had to say. Speakers brought up character, courage, honesty and integrity as necessary attributes. Some said the next chancellor needs to move beyond the status quo and tackle sensitive issues. 

Nick Droege, president of the Missouri Student Association and a member of the chancellor’s search committee, said he hopes the next chancellor advocates on behalf of students to the degree that Deaton did. Also, Deaton’s success at creating “a bridge between academia and community service,” such as his and Anne Deaton’s work in helping open Tiger Pantry last year, should be emulated.

Galen Suppes, a professor of chemical engineering, said the next MU leader needs to respect faculty authority on curriculum. Habib Zaghouani, a professor in the School of Medicine, hoped the new leader examines the mechanisms behind promotions and performance reviews. “Evaluations should be on achievements,” not politics, he said.

Gary L. Link, associate director of development for major gifts in Intercollegiate Athletics, said that whoever is selected, the MU community needs to support the new chancellor. “We’ve got to back this person to make this great university even better,” he said.

Follow the progress of the chancellor’s search at the website of the UM System.