System helps to sway Floyd’s decision

Sunday, April 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:20 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

UM system President Elson Floyd said opposition from the other three campuses in the UM system tilted his decision to not also become MU chancellor.

“There is this view in St. Louis, Kansas City and Rolla that, in some ways, if the president of the university is also serving as chancellor of the Columbia campus, their involvement will be diminished somewhat,” Floyd said.

Floyd made the long-awaited announcement Friday and called for nominations for an interim chancellor to serve while a national search is conducted.

The past year, as part of a series of announcements that included the possibility of adding a fifth campus to the system, Floyd said he was considering doing both jobs once MU Chancellor Richard Wallace retires in August.

Floyd said he made the decision after speaking with constituent groups throughout the system.

“We are one university, and we are a system,” he said. “And I am not going to do anything that will perpetuate the belief that the other campuses are not as important.”

Among his initiatives is the merging and streamlining of other administrative positions between the system and MU, known as consolidation. The process is expected to achieve efficiency and save the university money in a time of budgetary bloodletting. At a meeting with MU faculty last winter, Floyd said consolidation could save anywhere from $500,000 to $4.3 million each year. Some offices have already been merged, and more announcements are expected.

Whether the system will get a fifth campus — Northwest Missouri State University, which would be known as UM-Northwest — has been formally proposed and is now in the hands of legislators.

Floyd delayed his decision on whether to become MU chancellor for four months. Initially scheduled as an action item at a UM Board of Curators meeting in December, the matter was changed to an information item just before the meeting.

In the same week, jailhouse tapes of phone conversations between former MU basketball player Ricky Clemons and Elson Floyd’s wife, Carmento Floyd, became public and caused turmoil throughout the system. Elson Floyd said Friday that the events did not influence his decision to not become chancellor.

The MU campus community has until April 16 to submit recommendations for an interim.

“I move pretty quickly on most issues, and I hope that by the end of the following week, I will have an interim chancellor named,” Floyd said.

Wallace also held the role of interim before being appointed chancellor after a local search. The search for MU’s new chancellor will be national, and Floyd said he will appoint a search committee soon. An effective search usually lasts about six months.

Gail Lawrence, chairwoman of the MU Staff Advisory Council, and Gordon Christensen, chairman of MU’s Faculty Council, said their groups should be involved in this search.

Christensen said he is disappointed that Floyd did not go through with his initial plans. Christensen, who has praised Floyd for his fast and decisive actions, said this does not undermine the president’s leadership.

“It’s a sign of strength to decide to tackle this a different way,” he said.

MU Provost Brady Deaton has been mentioned in the past — even by Wallace — as a likely interim. Deaton has been handling most of the campus’ day-to-day duties since Wallace announced his retirement last July. Floyd, who has worked with Deaton on consolidating, said Deaton is doing a good job.

“I have a wonderful relationship with Provost Deaton, but it’s important to know that this is an open process,” Floyd said. “I want to hear from the voices from the University of Missouri-Columbia.”

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