The University of Missouri System’s vice president for research and economic development will join former UM System President Elson Floyd at Washington State University.
John Gardner will leave the UM System and take the position of vice president for economic development and extension at Washington State University, according to a news release.
Floyd, the new president of Washington State, created the position for Gardner in the UM System in 2005 and is now creating a similar position at Washington State.
Floyd, who left the UM System in April, said a reason for creating the position is to help with economic extension.
“The most notable difference (in the positions) is I’m asking him to serve as the senior person responsible for extension, which was not a part of his portfolio at Missouri,” Floyd said.
Gardner said the job was in a different context, but the economic development focus would be very much the same.
Gardner said he took the position because of family obligations and because it was a great career opportunity,
He said one goal of the new position would be to forge a partnership between Washington State University and the University of Washington, the state’s two research universities.
“University research just has such a critical role in the food chain of the economy,” Gardner said. He said his job is to position the university to help the state.
He also said the position would be in Seattle, which he described as one of the economic “hotbeds” in the country.
“It’s what makes me tick — that kind of environment,” he said.
Gardner said he accomplished many goals in Missouri, both tangible goals, such as a business incubator being built by Reactor Field, and intangible goals, such as aiding a culture of economic development.
“Everybody took this economic development on – you can see it up and down the line from faculty to the Board of Curators,” he said.
When Gardner leaves, interim President Gordon Lamb has plans to appoint someone to the position, UM System spokesman Scott Charton said.
“Dr. Lamb has authority as president just as Elson Floyd did when he appointed John,” Charton said.
Charton said Gardner’s last day with the university would be June 30.
Gardner recommended his replacement be able to walk in the “three worlds” of academia, business and government.
“I was very fortunate to be welcomed by people who were championing economic development in all three of those worlds,” he said. “Those people are still here.”
Gardner said it is not without regret that he leaves, but the career opportunity combined with family obligations made this a chance he needed to take.
“The family commitment will trump all,” he said.