Via an internal memo this morning, University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee announced that he is resigning.
In the announcement Forsee calls three years serving as system president "an honor," and pledges to help in any way possible.
Various state officials are saluting Forsee's tenure. Missouri Department of Higher Education Commissioner David Russell says Forsee's success in the corporate world made him an excellent leader during financially difficult times.
"He's been a strong and effective advocate for the university and all of higher education for that matter in the halls of government, both here in Jefferson City and in Washington D.C.," Russell said. "(Forsee's) efforts to link economic development and university-driven research are going to have a positive impact on (Missouri's) economy for years to come."
Russell says General Counsel Steven Owens will serve as Interim President while the Board of Curators conducts a nationwide search for a successor.
In a written statement, Governor Jay Nixon praised Forsee's tenure, citing a record growth in enrollment over the past three years.
Here is the full text of Forsee's announcement. (You can also read the Press Release about his resignation here):
January 7, 2011
This morning in a special meeting of the University's Board of Curators, I announced I am stepping down as the President of the University of Missouri system, effective immediately.
As you know, my wife Sherry was diagnosed with cancer following an emergency appendectomy in late November. Since then, we have been overwhelmed by your thoughtful wishes in cards, e-mails and prayers. Sherry has had subsequent successful surgery, finding no further signs of cancer, and will soon begin a treatment regimen to ensure she remains cancer-free. I know that many of you have either experienced this terrible disease, or have similarly supported family and friends facing this challenge—and to you, Sherry and I also extend our warmest wishes for successful outcomes.
While our priority going forward will be our family and Sherry’s full recovery, you can count on our continued full support for this great public research institution. The University President's role is a statewide, “24X7” commitment to support the teaching, research, service and economic development mission of our four campuses. This is a role both Sherry and I have taken on, and with passion. We have enjoyed the opportunity to serve our State and help in any way we could during what has certainly proven to be a challenging time.
After a long working career, LOTS of moves and working regularly from multiple locations, it is clearly time for us to get Sherry’s next six months of treatment completed and to focus on our family and great friends.
It truly has been an honor to serve in this position, and I’ve enjoyed working with you, as well as meeting so many of you. When I came to the University three years ago, I recall saying I had a lot to learn and was, in fact, going to need to "go back to school.” I thought coming in that I knew a fair amount about the University. Of course, once on the inside and "going to school" on our mission, I was quickly impressed with the breadth and quality of the work of our great faculty and staff, the incredible talent of our students, and the support and passion of alumni and friends of the University.
I can assure you that I have accumulated an incredible number of "bragging rights"...and we will continue to put all of them to good use.
Our ability as a public land-grant research university to provide students an opportunity to get a quality education…for our faculty to have the chance to do groundbreaking research and to be catalysts for job creation and economic development…for us to improve the health of Missourians by teaching and employing so many of our state’s health care professionals in our hospitals and clinics…for our colleagues to serve fellow Missourians by "extending" the University’s capabilities to address the unique needs of communities across the state...and of course, the core of what we do, for our ability to teach and provide opportunities for learning…is something we must inspire everyone to invest in and fully support. We simply can't take our important mission for granted…and I assure you I will continue to be a strong and loud advocate for all that you do.
I want to personally thank all of you who have supported Sherry and me in expanding our perspectives and knowledge of this wonderful University. And I also would like to thank all those folks around the state we’ve met—new as well as former acquaintances with whom we’ve reconnected. We so appreciate the reception we received during our time in Columbia and will continue to look forward to seeing old friends and new ones along the way.
Thank you for all that you do and for the many ways you make this a great university.