Mike Middleton | St. Louis Public Radio

Mike Middleton

Michael Middleton
Courtesy University of Missouri Columbia

This weekend will be the last for a performance of “My Country: A Devised Work,” a play presented by the UMSL's Theatre and Cinema Arts department, which was inspired by Sam Beadle’s poem “My Country.”

University of Missouri system President Mike Middleton prepares to testify Wednesday before the Joint Committee on Education.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

With a new system president arriving in March and the diversity plan that was initiated days before his appointment in place, interim President Mike Middleton told the University of Missouri curators Friday the year since his appointment in the wake of protests at the Columbia campus had been productive.

“If you think about where we were last December and where we are today, we have much to be proud of collectively,” said Middleton. He was appointed to take charge of the four-campus system last November after former president Tim Wolfe was criticized for how he handled racial issues on the Columbia campus.

University of Missouri students protest a series of racist incidents on the Columbia campus in this photo from Nov. 9, 2015.
Bram Sable-Smith | KBIA

The University of Missouri should emphasize diversity in its recruitment, train professors in the importance of diversity in their courses and increase outreach to improve diversity among faculty and staff, a systemwide task force recommended on Wednesday.

Those proposals were among priority items included in the task force’s report. It was responding to a comprehensive audit of diversity, equity and inclusion practices at the university conducted by the consulting firm IBIS.

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

One year ago this week the University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia was in turmoil.

University of Missouri System president Tim Wolfe abruptly announced his resignation Nov. 9 as his leadership and handling of issues of race were strongly criticized. Several hours later, R. Bowen Loftin said he would be leaving his post as chancellor of the system's Columbia campus to coordinate university research.

Hank Foley was then moved from research  work for the system and the Columbia campus to become interim chancellor at Mizzou..

(via Flickr/Adam Procter)

After lengthy fly-in sessions in St. Louis and Kansas City to meet prospective candidates and narrow the list, the head of the University of Missouri Board of Curators will say only that the search for a new system president “is going well.”

Pam Henrickson refrained from giving any more specific information after the curators met at the university’s Kansas City campus on Friday.

Interim President Mike Middleton addresses the University of Missouri Board of Curators
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The interim president of the University of Missouri system said that even as memories of last fall’s racial protests in Columbia persist, the school continues to perform valuable services for the state.

But the only African-American member of the university’s Board of Curators wants to make sure that the system’s new emphasis on diversity results in action, not just talk.

Interim President Mike Middleton addresses the University of Missouri Board of Curators
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Last fall, amid demonstrations in Columbia that ended the tenure of the University of Missouri’s president and the chancellor at Mizzou, the system became a national focus for campus problems about racial diversity and inclusion.

Now, the system’s interim president said Friday, it is becoming a model for the best way to work through those problems.

If the University of Missouri system can find its dream candidate for president, she or he will have a track record of success in education but also be able to deal with leaders in politics and business and communicate effectively with the public.

And strong leadership experience, plus a sensitivity to diversity, would be good as well.

New UM diversity officer Kevin McDonald
University of Missouri

The new diversity officer at the University of Missouri will be working at the system level, but that doesn’t mean he plans to remain aloof from students, faculty and staff at the four campuses.

University of Missouri system President Mike Middleton prepares to testify Wednesday before the Joint Committee on Education.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

After nationally watched protests over race relations and the departure of key officials, the leaders of the University of Missouri system promised lawmakers that change is on the way.

But legislators on the Joint Committee on Education questioned whether the four-campus system’s direction was truly righted – especially since a controversial professor is still employed at Mizzou.

A student panel discusses diversity efforts at the University of Missouri Board of Curators meeting on Feb. 5, 2016
Stay Tuned/Nine Network of Public Media

The interim president of the University of Missouri said Friday that the school has to stop looking backward at the recent turmoil and concentrate on moving forward on issues of race and diversity.

But before he spoke, a student panel told members of the Board of Curators that such progress won’t happen until university leaders pay more attention to what students want and need.

Interim President Mike Middleton addresses the University of Missouri Board of Curators
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12:35 p.m. Thursday with details of search - A committee of more than a dozen people from all four campuses of the University of Missouri will lead the search for a new president of the system.

The board of curators, meeting by teleconference on Wednesday, decided that a search firm would also be hired to find a successor to Tim Wolfe, who resigned his position in November after prolonged protests on the Columbia campus. In the meantime, Mike Middleton will continue serving as acting president.

Interim President Mike Middleton addresses the University of Missouri Board of Curators
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

In the wake of what he called a “perfect storm,” interim President Mike Middleton said Friday that the four-campus University of Missouri system should seize the opportunity to show its leadership on issues that prompted the resignations of two top officials.

Middleton took over as head of the system last month after Tim Wolfe resigned following lengthy student protests over racial incidents and other issues. The same day, the chancellor of the university’s Columbia campus, R. Bowen Loftin, also announced he would step down into a lesser role at Mizzou.

Michael Middleton
Courtesy University of Missouri Columbia

Updated at 2:10 p.m. Nov. 12 with official announcement, news conference: Mike Middleton, a deputy chancellor emeritus at Mizzou with a long history on the campus as a student, professor and administrator, was named Thursday as interim president of the University of Missouri system.