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ANALYSIS: Curators search committee looks at UM presidential candidates

Thursday, May 19, 2011 | 1:57 p.m. CDT; updated 6:52 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 19, 2011

COLUMBIA — The search committee appointed to find a new president for the University of Missouri System is meeting in Kansas City this week to take a look at the candidates.

The Board of Curators received more than 30 applications for a successor to former President Gary Forsee by the May 9 deadline, according to system spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead.

The board's presidential search committee has scheduled an executive session for 7:30 a.m. Friday, depending on a vote Thursday to close the meeting.

Curator Warren Erdman, who heads the search committee, has indicated that the board does not expect to announce a new president until at least the end of the year.

Given the secret nature of the search, buzz about the candidates is hard to come by. Here's a speculative list of names that have been mentioned on UM's four campuses.

Brady Deaton: The MU chancellor has been the subject of plenty of gossip as a potential candidate. Earlier this month, he told the Missourian his new position as chairman of a federal advisory board would not affect an opportunity to be a candidate for the president's job.

“This is the kind of thing presidents of institutions do,” he said. “They’re involved in a variety of national and international policy issues.”

In addition to obvious familiarity with the university, Deaton would bring political savvy to the job, having served on multiple boards and committees. However, he does not have the business experience the search committee included in its qualifications.

John Carney III: The newly retired chancellor of Missouri Science & Technology would come in with institutional knowledge but without business expertise.

Kathy Osborn: As regional business council executive director and former University of Missouri-St. Louis vice chancellor, Osborn would bring the recipe of academic experience and business experience. She would also become the UM System’s first female president, and the curators would likely welcome the opportunity to demonstrate their acceptance of diversity.

Kit Bond: The former senator told the Columbia Tribune he is “definitely not a candidate” for the job. The news came as a blow to many who saw him as an ideal candidate given his political career and close relationship to the university.

Steve Owens: As interim president, Owens would be a logical choice for a smooth transition. But he has said repeatedly he is not interested in the job.

“I enjoy this job as president. It’s interesting and it’s challenging. I’m having fun with it,” Owens said in an interview early this year.

“It’s really just a matter of personal preference. I’m educated as a lawyer. I’m trained as a lawyer. And so my personal preference is to be general counsel as opposed to president.”

Thomas George: Another familiar face in the system, the UMSL chancellor could be considered. But he has told faculty members he is not interested in the job.


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