Rob Duncan, MU vice chancellor, to leave for position at Texas Tech

Friday, October 11, 2013 | 6:43 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Rob Duncan, MU's vice chancellor for research, is leaving MU to take a position at Texas Tech University, Provost Brian Foster announced Friday.

Duncan, who has served as vice chancellor since 2008, said he intends to resign from MU on Dec. 31, and he will start as vice president for research at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, on Jan. 1.


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"The University of Missouri in Columbia is one of the truly excellent research universities in the world," Duncan said. "One thing that I hope to do over the next few years is build Texas Tech to the level of research excellence that we have achieved at the University of Missouri."

Duncan's departure is one of several during the past year in MU's administration. Budget Director Tim Rooney retired in December, Chancellor Brady Deaton will retire Nov. 15, and both Foster and Jackie Jones, vice chancellor of MU Administrative Services, will retire this December.

In his position at MU, Duncan has been responsible for the university's research enterprise. According to an MU News Bureau news release, he has oversight of the management of MU's research facilities, including the MU Research Reactor, interdisciplinary centers, and MU's economic and technology incubation efforts.

He is also responsible for helping facilitate research conducted by MU faculty.

Duncan said he is proud of many accomplishments during his tenure as vice chancellor, including establishing the Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance, which is a group of MU scientists who study low-energy nuclear reactions.

He also said it has been wonderful to be able to collaborate with others to make MU a Coulter Translational Partnership institution. The partnership helps scientists bridge the gap between their discoveries in the lab and the marketplace. Duncan said there are only 15 partner institutions in the U.S., and they are some of the top universities in the world.

"It's been wonderful to see the University of Missouri become one of them," he said.

MU spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said Duncan has had a significant effect during his five years as vice chancellor.

"He's been very interested in taking the research that our faculty and our students do and helping to develop that research into companies," she said.

Banken said MU has filed more patents and signed more licenses for new technology with Duncan as vice chancellor. That technology has been "developed into companies which have impacted the economy and the state, and actually the nation," she said.

Banken said it's not unusual for a top administrator of a national university to be recruited by another university, as Duncan was.

Still, she said, "we are saddened to see him go because we all think very highly of him and appreciate what he has done for MU."

Rob Hall, MU's associate vice chancellor for research, will serve as interim vice chancellor beginning Jan. 1. Hall has been at MU for 36 years and has been in the Office of Research since 2000, according to the news release, and he said he has filled the interim vice chancellor position twice before.

"The situation is always to keep the research operation running efficiently and keep everything moving forward as we progress to identify a new vice chancellor for research," he said.

Hall said he expects MU to hire an external candidate to fill its vice chancellor vacancy, which he said will take some time.

"There'll have to be a search committee put together," Hall said. "The provost will take the lead on that, and then we'll go through the process, have interviews, and then eventually, there'll be a successful candidate identified who is, in all likelihood, going to be at another institution and have to disengage."

It will be up to the new chancellor, who has yet to be hired, to choose Duncan's successor, Banken said.

"I think it's important for whoever the next chancellor is, that he or she be able to really select their leadership team," Duncan said. "It's important that that leadership team be handpicked by the next chancellor, just as (Texas Tech President) Duane Nellis has selected me."

Missourian reporter T.J. Thomson contributed.

Supervising editor is Margaux Henquinet.

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