Missouri Southern president leaves; reasons unclear

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 | 8:35 a.m. CDT; updated 5:27 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 18, 2013

JOPLIN — Missouri Southern State University officials have terminated the university president's contract but have not explained why he was let go after about five years on the job.

The university's Board of Governors announced Monday that President Bruce Speck's contract was terminated by mutual agreement, The Joplin Globe reported. The announcement came after a closed meeting Friday, the latest of several board meetings held in recent weeks in conjunction with Speck's annual evaluation. Speck had two years left on his contract, which was renewed last year.

Board Chairwoman Sherry Buchanan announced Speck's departure in a news release, but it offered no reasons for Speck's departure or details of any severance package. University spokeswoman Cassie Mathes directed questions to the board's attorney, Jon Dermott, who declined to discuss the terms of the agreement or the reasons for the termination of Speck's contract, saying it was a personnel matter.

Mathes said Speck could not be reached for comment.

Speck had not been at his office for more than two weeks before the Monday announcement.

In 2009, a year after Speck became Missouri Southern president, faculty approved a no-confidence vote against Speck, accusing him of poor communications and withholding information.

According to Speck's contract, he would be entitled to six months' additional salary and health insurance benefits if the board initiated the termination of his contract under the "mutual consent" clause. If the president himself initiated the termination, he would not be paid any salary or benefits beyond the date of his termination.

Pat Lipira, vice president for academic affairs, said she was not necessarily surprised by the announcement, and said she is optimistic about the university's future.

"I think there's great things ahead for Missouri Southern, and I just hope we pull together after this and move forward," she said.

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