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Search for new U. of Missouri System President begins

The University of Missouri system has begun its search for its next president following the Jan. 7 resignation of Gary Forsee. Pictured here is the system's flagship campus in Columbia, Mo. (via Flickr/Adam Procter)

University of Missouri curators agreed unanimously Thursday to hire an executive search firm in the hunt for the four-campus system’s next president, saying they will take their time to ensure they find the best possible candidate.

This is following the Jan. 7 resignation of Gary Forsee to care for his ill wife.

Acting president Steve Owens, the university system's general counsel, has said he is not interested in the permanent job.

So what does the search process look like?

  •  University officials expect it to be a six- to 12-month process.
  • An informal timeline released Thursday indicates that curators expect to begin interviewing candidates in April and May. By then, they hope to be joined by four new members pending one final appointment from Gov. Jay Nixon and approval by state lawmakers.
  • Curators plan to appoint a 19-member advisory committee of faculty members, alumni and others who would offer suggestions to the board, which has final hiring approval. The advisory committee would also vet finalists for curator consideration.
  • Members of the public will also be able to weigh in on the presidential search - not about particular comments but instead the desired qualities of the next university leader.
  • A series of seven public forums are planned across the state in early March, with each event featuring at least one curator, a search firm representative and other university officials.

With those steps in place, and Owens at the helm for now, the curators say they aren't in a particular rush.
 "Having an interim university president who hits the ground running allows us a lot more time to be deliberate," said board chairman Warren Erdman. "It does take some pressure off the search. You don't want the schedule to dictate a poor outcome."

The search process that culminated in Forsee's hiring in late 2007 took about 10 months.

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