The University of Missouri Board of Curators held its first public meeting of 2016 on Wednesday. Five board members met in a conference room at the Columbia campus’s Ellis Library while three joined via conference call. Board members immediately voted to enter an executive session, which was closed to the public. Per a media release, the executive session was scheduled to last one hour, but instead lasted for more than three.
When the meeting was opened back up to the public, board members discussed a tentative plan and timeline for the hiring of a new UM System President following the resignation of Tim Wolfe in November. Curators considered a variety of options for the hiring process based on the previous hiring procedure used to hire Wolfe. The Curators decided an approximately fifteen-member search committee of faculty and student representatives from the four MU campuses will spearhead the decision making process. A search firm that will be chosen by the Board of Curators will advise the search committee. Curator Pamela Henrickson said the search committee will conduct a closed search until the final round of candidates are determined.
“If you have an open search, then everyone who submits a resume – their names and their qualifications are known to the public,” Henrickson said. “From the public viewpoint, that has some appeal because they’d like to participate in the process but in the candidates’ viewpoint, not so much because people are employed and they don’t want their employer to know they’re searching for another job.”
Curator John Phillips said it is not realistic to expect a new president within six months and said the average university presidential search lasts anywhere from seven to eighteen months. Once the committee and search firm narrow down the candidates, there will be an undetermined number of public forums at all four MU campuses. Phillips said it is important that students and faculty from all campuses feel included in the decision making process. Henrickson noted that the curators experienced little disagreement during the public portion of the meeting.
“I think that we had an excellent discussion and we were all looking at the presidential search very similarly, not that we all agreed on every single point but we all had similar attitudes and dedication to finding the next president of the University of Missouri which we all know is the most important job,” she said.
The board also discussed whether the final decision of who to hire should be solely up to the board, or whether the committee or students should have a say in the decision, but no solid plan was agreed upon for that final step. Phillips said the Board of Curators will present a more precise plan during its second scheduled meeting on February 4th.