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March 20, 2014 Volume 35, No. 24

MU research and graduate studies positioned for closer collaboration by appointments

Appointments give Leona Rubin and Hank Foley roles at both MU and the UM System

Leona Rubin started March 13 as MU's associate vice chancellor for graduate studies and the UM System's associate vice president for academic affairs and graduate education. Photo by Rob Hill.

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin is proving to be a decisive leader.

On March 13, he announced two administrative appointments, both of whom will have one foot in the University of Missouri System and one foot in the University of Missouri.

Loftin told Faculty Council that Hank Foley, executive vice president of academic affairs, research and economic development for the UM System, will take on the additional role of senior vice chancellor for research and graduate studies at MU; the MU position had been held by Robert Duncan, whose departure to Texas A&M was announced Oct. 11, 2013.

Meanwhile, Leona Rubin, who in June 2013 was named interim dean of the Graduate School, will become associate vice chancellor for graduate studies at MU and associate vice president for academic affairs and graduate education at the UM System.

The appointments, effective March 13, resolve two of Loftin’s concerns: the time lag due to months of searching for a qualified person to be MU’s research leader followed by months for the new hire to learn the job, and the issue of how to involve more graduate students in various schools and colleges across campus in important collaborative research.

Foley’s UM System position includes overseeing and coordinating research functions at all four System campuses.  In his additional role, Foley will lead MU’s research operation, overseeing the Division of Sponsored Programs, nine research centers, the Technology Management and Industry Relations Program, and the Office of Animal Research. 

“Research and economic development have been passions of mine throughout my academic career, and I am excited about the opportunities and potential at MU,” Foley said in a statement. “Serving as both UM System executive vice president and MU senior vice chancellor will provide a unique approach toward growing MU’s footprint in research and economic development, both crucial elements in maintaining the university’s elite status as a member of the [Association of American Universities].”

Rubin and Foley will collaborate in the UM System Office of Academic Affairs and work with deans of schools and colleges to determine needed structural and administrative changes to graduate education.

Positioning graduate education closer to MU’s research mission offers “an exciting new opportunity that can benefit Mizzou’s mission of research and education,” Rubin said in a statement.

Loftin’s announcement of the appointments was greeted with applause. “We will look back a year from now and say that [the decisions were] even better than we thought,” said William Wiebold, professor of plant sciences.

A supporter of shared governance, Loftin said faculty was involved in the discussions leading to the appointments.

In other news, UM System President Tim Wolfe reported on his Show Me Value Tour, in which he and other administrators visited 12 Missouri communities to talk about the value of higher education and hear feedback from Missourians. Visited were grammar school students, civic leaders and business leaders.

Business leaders were mostly positive about their experiences with MU graduates. However, some said hires needed broader knowledge outside their expertise to help their collaborating with colleagues in other fields, Wolfe said. Also, many rural community members could not grasp how MU research and MU Extension helps Missourians. “We have some work to do in that,” Wolfe said.

Finally, Rebecca Johnson, a nursing professor who heads council’s Diversity Enhancement committee, talked about the committee’s work looking into student mental health and the reporting of campus sexual assaults. The committee took up the task in response to the Sasha Menu Courey case. 

Johnson asked Wolfe about UM System’s promise for funding on the issue. She was referring to Wolfe’s Feb. 14 email message, in which the president said that the System would provide “resources to educate the campus community about sexual assault and prevention, as well as an effective process for reporting such incidents.” 

Wolfe did not hesitate. “I look forward to seeing [your report], and I look forward to funding” needed programs, he said.