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Opinions abound at public forum for MU chancellor search

The donation to MU from the Sidney Kimmel Foundation amounts to $5.5 million.
The donation to MU from the Sidney Kimmel Foundation amounts to $5.5 million.

As the search to replace retiring MU Chancellor Brady Deaton begins, a public forum held in MU’s Jesse Hall Monday allowed people to tell UM System leaders what they want to see in a future chancellor.  It was the first of two public forums held on MU’s campus this week.   

A handful of MU faculty, staff, and students voiced their opinions at the hour-long forum.  They discussed what they thought should be required of the next chancellor, and what key areas of strength he or she should have.

Nick Droege, president of the Missouri Students Association, said he hopes the next chancellor will fight to get necessary funding for the university.

“It’s becoming more and more important that we have a chancellor who is advocating on behalf of students and is willing to interact with legislators and to fight for students and the university faculty, staff and funding in general,” Droege said.

Galen Suppes, a professor in MU’s chemical engineering department, said he wants the next chancellor to support faculty authority over curriculum.

“There is a true wisdom in having faculty in charge of curriculum—of people who are contacting the students, working with students, teaching the classes,” Suppes said.

Others said they see politics as a problem on MU’s campus and want a chancellor who is above politics.  Latrícia Vaughn, a secretary at MU’s Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute, said she has seen Deaton’s administration playing politics and wants a chancellor who stands for honesty and integrity.

“With two of the pillars of the university being honesty and integrity, I have great concerns that those be checked out on the local level from wherever these candidates come from so that we won’t get someone who is a snake in the grass but looks great on the outside, because I have seen that type of person on this campus,” Vaughn said.  “He projects an image of being your best friend and your best advocate, and then he will turn and stab you in the back.”

UM System President Tim Wolfe said the search to replace Deaton will be closed to the public but the comments shared in public forums will be taken into consideration. 

“We’re going to take this input, combine it with the other town halls and conversations that we have, and prioritize that,” Wolfe said.  “And that goes into the job description, as well as the charge to the search committee that will allow us to evaluate the candidates and come up with what the finalists would be based on their competition against the criteria that’s been established.”

Wolfe said he hopes to name a new chancellor by November 15, the date Deaton is set to retire.

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