Updated March 21 with additional details from the announcement event — University of Missouri–St. Louis Chancellor Tom George will retire in September, he announced Thursday.
The university administration will name an interim chancellor and begin a national search for a permanent replacement.
“This has been the greatest experience of my professional life, to serve as chancellor at UMSL, to represent our super students, faculty, staff, alums, supporters,” George said in a speech. “Without a doubt, no other university brings more to bear on the success of the greater St. Louis region than UMSL.”
George held the post for 16 years. During that time, the university invested more than $153 million in new buildings and renovation projects. The university also developed relationships with other institutions internationally and pursued research grants.
George will continue to serve as the president emeritus of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities through 2020.
Dr. Barbara Harbach, George’s wife, will retire this year as well. She chairs UMSL’s Department of Music, directs the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and teaches as a Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Music.
University of Missouri System President Mun Choi will help the university develop a transition plan and name an interim chancellor “to build upon the successful programs of excellence,” he said.
Choi said truly replacing George will be impossible. But he said the university will look for a candidate who respects UMSL’s vision for student success, high-quality research and local engagement.
Choi said they want to find “someone who has a bold vision, someone who can actually execute the vision, someone who is also accountable and transparent, and someone who places people — especially our students — at the center of their thinking when making decisions.”
George said he hopes his successor will “build on all the successes we’ve had and take it yet to another level.”
The new chancellor will help execute UMSL’s five-year strategic plan, which concludes in 2023. The plan calls for dozens of changes, including developing more flexible degree programs, increasing institutional support for research and studying how UMSL’s influence affects regional economics. George said he also hopes the university will continue to develop new degree programs per student needs and expand UMSL’s online offerings.
Choi said that he will work with staff and others at the university to identify an interim chancellor by this June. He will consider current campus staff, as well as others.
About 50 qualified candidates will likely apply for the permanent chancellorship, Choi said. The university plans to launch the search in early fall and select a new chancellor by January 2020. According to Choi, the next chancellor could start in summer 2020.
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Editor’s note: The University of Missouri Board of Curators, which also governs UMSL, holds the license to St. Louis Public Radio. The station is editorially independent.