MU communications leader Chris Koukola to retire

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 | 7:39 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Chris Koukola hasn't been bored in 28 years.

Koukola's job can change by the hour. One hour, she could be meeting with the university affairs staff and attending a chancellor's meeting. The next hour could be spent talking with alumni, and the next hour she could be discussing MU's next television commercial with the marketing team.


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But soon, all of that will come to an end.

Koukola will retire Jan. 31, having served as MU's assistant to the chancellor for university affairs since 1986. Mary Jo Banken, executive director of the MU News Bureau, will fill the position in the interim.

"That's what I've liked so much over the years: It's always interesting," Koukola said. "It reflects the diversity of the university. Dealing with all the different parts — we're like our own city with different operations."

Koukola has not only guided the university's communications, but also the five chancellors she has worked with during her tenure at MU.

"Since I began working with campus administration in 1989, Chris has been my wise counsel," said Brady Deaton, MU's chancellor from 2004 to 2013, in an MU news release. "(She's) provided me with her sound judgment in every aspect of public communication of the mission and matters critical to MU."

With rising tuition costs, Koukola foresees challenges for her successor.

"It's going to be important to help citizens understand the great benefit and value a research university brings to the state and to their own lives," she said.

Koukola said she decided she was at an age and point in her career to explore a few goals for what to do with her time in retirement.

"Not to read my email every hour," she said. "I would also like to spend more time with my family and my new horse."

Koukola, an Illinois native, will stay in Columbia and enjoy the state she fell for at junior high summer camp.

"I loved Missouri," she said. "I thought it was beautiful."

In 2009, Koukola received the Mizzou Alumni Association's Geyer Award, presented to one elected official and one citizen who have made a positive impact on higher education and MU. Prior to working at MU, Koukola served as director of information services and publications at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.

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