UM presidential search committee to hold public forums

Saturday, March 5, 2011 | 3:34 p.m. CST; updated 10:14 a.m. CST, Sunday, March 6, 2011

COLUMBIA — The search for a new University of Missouri System president has officially begun.

The UM presidential search committee held its first forum Thursday in Portageville, and the second will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. It will be posted online after the event.

At the forum, stakeholders are invited to share their opinions on qualities the committee should look for in a new president. There will be five additional forums in the next two weeks.

Interim UM System President Steve Owens, who assumed office after Gary Forsee stepped down in December, said in a recent interview that the new president will need a sense of humor, as well as leadership and interpersonal skills and an understanding of Missouri and Missouri residents.

“I don't know that prior association with the state of Missouri or the University of Missouri is a requirement, but it would be a good asset if they have that,” he said.

Warren Erdman, chairman of the search committee, said he does not have any preconceived notions about what the next president will be like.

“I’m looking for the most qualified and the most passionate person,” he said. “I’m less hung up on what their background is and where they came from. I’m more interested in the individual.”

Erdman said the search process will have three stages: developing a consensus among stakeholders about the qualities the new president should have, finding candidates who have those qualities and then narrowing down those candidates to one person.

He said he expects the first period of the process to end April 1, when the search committee will begin advertising the position with qualifications agreed upon by stakeholders. The second period, he said, usually lasts two or three months.

“It depends on how successful you are in finding candidates that meet those qualifications,” Erdman said.

Betsy Rodriguez, UM vice president of human resources, said at the previous Board of Curators’ meeting that presidential searches typically last between six and 12 months.

The Board of Curators organized the presidential search committee and also agreed to hire a search firm at its previous meeting. Erdman said the committee will probably announce which search firm has been chosen on Monday.

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