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New UM president should create university system

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:33 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

President Walsworth and members of the Board of Curators:

As you consider who to select as the new UM president, I suggest you consider the primary, if not only, job the new president will have and, accordingly, the primary, if not only, criterion for selection — to create a university system. The UM system exists in name only. Virtually no effort has been expended since the system was created in the early ’60s to create a real system.

Unless the new president is successful in creating a real university system, I predict that the system will disintegrate within 10 years.

Such a result would not be good for Missouri; such a result would be even worse for Columbia and mid-Missouri. Those who like to think of MU, using a naval metaphor, as the flagship of the system, should remember that there can be no flagship without a fleet. For those not mainly focused on MU, I would suggest that greater strength to accomplish the goals of each member would come from sailing together rather than in sailing alone. Interestingly, now may be the most opportune time since the ’60s to try to create a university system with MU as the flagship campus.

Any candidate for the presidency who doesn’t understand that his or her primary job will be to create a university system is not qualified for the position. I see this great task to be primarily one of leadership and vision, not one of management. Please keep looking for a candidate with these qualifications.


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