COLUMBIA — MU is about to hang a vacancy sign on its hilltop presidential home, Providence Point.
UM System President Tim Wolfe said he plans to move out of the official residence overlooking Hinkson Creek and buy a private home. Since his December 2011 hiring, Wolfe's wife and two children have spent most of their time in Massachusetts where the twins attend high school. His family has made weekend and summer visits to Columbia.
UM System spokesman John Fougere said Wolfe — a Columbia native whose father was an MU professor— is "putting down permanent, strong roots for his family in the community where he grew up." Wolfe disclosed the pending move at the Board of Curators meeting in Columbia last week.
The nearly 13,000-square-foot home was built in 1971, with a residential addition completed 14 years later. Each of Wolfe's eight predecessors has lived at the presidential home since it was built. But with plummeting state support of the university's four campuses and near-annual tuition hikes, Wolfe is also likely mindful that some taxpayers may question continued public support of a private home.
Wolfe told The Associated Press he's exploring ways to open Providence Point to the community, including as a possible party rental site.
The university system spent $88,000 to fix the home soon after Wolfe's arrival, with repairs including mold abatement, electrical upgrades and asbestos removal. He initially decided to leave Providence Point just a few months after starting work but changed his mind so the university would not have to pay for additional temporary housing.
Additional repairs are still needed. University officials previously said that Providence Point also needs work on its roof, windows, doors, siding and heating and cooling systems, as well as repaved parking and new carpet in the residential wing — repairs that in April 2012 were estimated to cost several hundred thousand dollars.
Providence Point has four bedrooms, eight bathrooms, offices, an exercise room and an outdoor swimming pool.