University of Missouri Curators Approve Merger Of System President And Chancellor Over Faculty Opposition
The vote means MU President Mun Choi will have unprecedented power over the campuses in Kansas City, St. Louis and Rolla.
The University of Missouri Board of Curators voted to combine the roles of the system's president and chancellor Tuesday, approving a new governing structure that gives current chief executive Mun Choi the most unprecedented authority since the creation of the UM system in 1963.
With the vote, Choi is confirmed as permanent MU chancellor. He will directly oversee all operations at the Columbia campus while supervising the campuses in St. Louis, Kansas City and Rolla.
The resolution detailing the new structure, unanimously approved, also creates a Council of Chancellors. The council, chaired by Choi and the other three campuses' chancellors as members, will meet monthly to discuss challenges and opportunities, exchange information and collaborate between campuses.
In the weeks prior to Tuesday's vote, faculty at three of the system's four campuses publicly opposed the decision. Councils representing faculty at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Missouri-St. Louis expressed concerns about potential conflicts of interest and undermining their campuses' authority and funding.
Curators met with more than 280 constituents and groups — including faculty, staff, students, trustees, community leaders and elected officials — regarding the decision, chair Julia Brncic said in a Monday email to all four campuses notifying them of the meeting. Brncic and Curator Michael Williams said in letters responding to the three campuses' faculty bodies that they would address those concerns.
MU's Faculty Council did not take any formal action regarding the decision at their meeting last Thursday, but Chairman Clark Peters said he had received over 12 pages of comments on the decision from faculty that he planned to send to the board before their vote.
However, MU faculty did challenge Choi at that meeting, condemning his remarks discouraging internal dissent and refusal to move a Thomas Jefferson statue on campus. Several said those comments and actions had bred a culture of intimidation among university employees and intensified concerns leading up to his confirmation as permanent chancellor.
Choi disagreed with that assessment, saying he worked in the best interests of the university and sought to be transparent in communicating with all university stakeholders.