COLUMBIA — The University of Missouri System's Office of Research and Economic Development will be going through changes with the impending retirement of a senior staff member.
Michael Nichols, vice president for research and economic development for the UM System, announced his retirement after almost six years, according to a May 28 letter from UM President Tim Wolfe. Nichols' final day in office will be Friday.
Nichols has served in this position since December 2007 and had previously served for about a year as director of the Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations. He has been with the UM System since 1978 as a member of the research faculty at Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center.
Nichols accomplished a great deal during his time as vice president, overseeing several expansions and funding programs in the Office of Research and Economic Development, Wolfe said in his letter. Nichols' direction led the Kauffman Foundation to recognize the UM System as one of only three university "Leaders in Communication."
According to Wolfe's letter, in addition to serving on six economic boards throughout Missouri and creating five programs to accelerate the commercialization of research, Nichols also led an effort to allow students more control and ownership of their intellectual properties, which was a first among universities.
Nichols' job as vice president of research and economic development will not be filled specifically but will be covered by a new position that Wolfe announced in January. That post, however, has not been filled.
The new position, UM vice president for academic affairs, will serve as the chief academic officer for the four-campus system and oversee the research and economic development efforts that Nichols led.
"When the new vice president comes in we will look at what is the best structure for the department," UM System spokeswoman Liz McCune said. "Research and economic development will certainly continue to be at the forefront of the system and is an important part of what we do."
McCune said that finalists for the new position have been identified and that the job should be filled soon, but she gave no specific timeline. Nichols' current job will be held by the UM System Chief of Staff Bob Schwartz until the search is completed.
Nichols did not respond to calls for comment. His departure comes as Nikki Krawitz, UM vice president for finance and administration, is preparing to leave UM and about a year after Cindy Pollard, UM system vice president for strategic communication, left her job. Wolfe decided not to hire a replacement for Pollard.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.