UM presidential search committee hears feedback at Columbia forum

Monday, March 14, 2011 | 6:19 p.m. CDT; updated 10:44 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 14, 2011

COLUMBIA — The UM System Board of Curators held a public forum in Columbia on Monday to gauge opinion on the qualifications of the next system president.

About 50 people filled the room in Reynolds Alumni Center, where Presidential Search Committee Chairman Warren Erdman led the forum. Erdman has been a vocal advocate of gaining public input in the search for the next system president since Gary Forsee stepped down in January.

“The breadth and reach of the University of Missouri is very wide and very broad. It touches not only our four campuses but our entire economy,” Erdman said. “We welcome the input of the people of Missouri, and today we are inviting you to share your thoughts.”

Former curator Tom Atkins — one of five who spoke — pushed for candidates that understand the complexities of the four-campus system.

“The person that we’re looking for has to be someone who can see the differences in the campuses and the value of the campuses,” Atkins said. “They are all extremely important, and you have to be able to balance your feelings about all four campuses.”

Few students were in attendance, though MU senior Paul Rolfe said he wanted the next president to be responsive to student feedback.

Chancellor Brady Deaton, student curator Laura Confer and newly-appointed curator Craig Van Matre were also present to receive input.

The findings from the seven public forums will be brought before the Board of Curators at its March 21 meeting in Rolla. After that, the committee will begin a search for individual candidates with the help of a hired search firm.

Greenwood/Ascher & Associates chosen as search firm

UM System officials announced March 7 that Greenwood/Ascher & Associates was selected as the search firm to aid the presidential search committee.

The firm has previously worked with the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Missouri University of Science & Technology and has completed more than 1,000 searches for higher education institutions, health centers, intercollegiate athletics departments, and nonprofit and for-profit organizations, according to a UM System news release.

Erdman said Jan Greenwood, president of Greenwood/Ascher, has been participating in the public forums so far.

"(Commitment) doesn't get any higher than that, when the owner of a firm is coming to take part in your public forums," Erdman said.

The firm will use its database of candidates to find attractive candidates, receive recommendations, conduct background searches and compile information on candidates for the committee to consider, he said.

"The firm will be deeply involved," Erdman said.

Erdman also said the fees paid to Greenwood/Ascher — $120,000 — are "very favorable" and below market for what it would normally cost to retain the firm.

"We're very lucky to retain this firm," Erdman said. "They have a lot of experience with Missouri, a lot of experience with the University of Missouri, and they're one of the premier search firms in the field nationwide."

Greenwood was not present at the Columbia forum but is expected to attend the forum Tuesday in Rolla.

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