Choi, new UM System president, will be paid $530K a year | St. Louis Public Radio

Choi, new UM System president, will be paid $530K a year

Nov 2, 2016

Updated Nov. 3 with salary details – Incoming University of Missouri System President Mun Choi will make more money than his two predecessors.

The university system released details of Choi's contract Thursday, which show he'll earn a base salary of $530,000 a year.  The contract period runs from March 1, 2017, through June 30, 2022.

Choi will also receive a $2400 a month housing allowance and use of a university-owned car.  In addition, he'll receive a deferred salary of $66,666.67 if he remains president throughout the five-year, four-month contract period.

By comparison, former UM System President Tim Wolfe's base salary was $477,544.  Interim president Mike Middleton currently earns the same base salary as Wolfe.

Original story – Nearly one full year after the resignation of Tim Wolfe, the University of Missouri System has chosen his permanent replacement.

University of Connecticut provost Mun Choi will take over as system president effective March 1, 2017. He said he's committed to setting high standards throughout the UM system.

"I'll work with the curators, the chancellors and the senior leadership team, and all of the stakeholders," he said, "to shape the compelling reasons why talented and diverse students would select UM for their education, why world-class faculty members will begin and continue their careers here at UM, and for government, donors, and corporations to continue to make investment in this great system."

UM System curator Pam Henrickson and incoming president Mun Choi answer questions from reporters in Jefferson City.
Credit Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Wolfe resigned following racial unrest on the Mizzou campus, that included a threatened boycott by the football team of last year's scheduled game with BYU. Choi told the audience that he read the demands issued by Concerned Students 1950 during the height of protests.

"As the system president, I wholly believe in everyone's responsibility in creating an inclusive, collegial, and welcoming environment … that's critical," he said. "I asked myself what can I do that I can share my examples of my activities that can create that kind of environment."

He continued, "It's also very important for all of us to open that line of dialog with students, with faculty, with staff members so that we can avoid dramatic action, so that they don't feel –  'they' meaning any group of students or faculty members – that their voices are not heard."

The Board of Curators made the announcement Wednesday in Jefferson City before a gathering of university officials, politicians and media. UM System spokesman John Fougere told reporters that information about Choi's salary and contract will be available Thursday.

Choi fielded a few questions during the introductory media event, including what type of relationship he's had with lawmakers in Connecticut, and if he has a plan to bridge what's been a contentious relationship between Missouri lawmakers and the UM System. He said his interactions with elected officials in Connecticut could be characterized as having "collaboration and collegiality."

"I'm confident that through my interaction I can share with the legislators in Missouri my commitment to see positive outcomes in creating that wonderful university system that's known for research, known for high quality education," he said. "The first thing I have to do is to listen, to listen to their point of view and also to find out how we can come to common ground when it comes to supporting higher education."

Choi was also asked where he stands on graduate students organizing to form a labor union. A group of graduate students on the Mizzou campus has filed a lawsuit to force the university to recognize them as a union.

"I would have to understand more about the situation here at the University of Missouri System before being able to make a definitive answer," he said. "But I will be working closely with (interim) president (Mike) Middleton, as well as the campus chancellors, to better understand the situation, but always finding ways to better support our graduate students."

Curator Pam Henrickson said it's "a legal question that needs resolution. Our opinion is one issue, but there's no legal precedent in the state of Missouri, and so that's the reason the lawsuit is going forward."

Choi later met with Gov. Jay Nixon, who praised his selection in a written statement:

"The selection of Dr. Choi is a great choice at a key time for the University of Missouri System. He brings to the university system a record of unparalleled academic credentials with master's and doctorate degrees from Princeton, internationally recognized research as an aerospace engineer, and impressive institutional achievement and leadership at the University of Connecticut.

"As an AAU institution, the University of Missouri already has a long and proud history of academic achievement and ground-breaking research, and Dr. Choi will bolster those strong credentials. I am confident he will succeed in leading this outstanding university system."

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport