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UM System moves toward president

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 | 10:58 p.m. CST; updated 9:53 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Matt Blunt met privately Tuesday with Gary Forsee, the former chief executive officer of Sprint Nextel Corp., about Forsee’s potential selection as the next president of the University of Missouri.

Blunt’s meeting with Forsee came one day after a 19-member advisory committee met in a closed session in Kansas City to interview a candidate for the university presidency.The 19-member advisory committee plans to pass its opinions on to the university Board of Curators, which makes the final decision.

Asked Tuesday if Blunt was meeting with a candidate for the university presidency, spokeswoman Jessica Robinson responded affirmatively. She said Blunt met with Forsee privately at the Capitol in early afternoon. She declined to elaborate on their conversation.

Forsee, a Kansas City-area resident, was ousted as chairman, president and chief executive of Sprint Nextel on Oct. 9.

The university is looking for a replacement for Elson Floyd, who left Missouri in April for the top job at Washington State University. Interim President Gordon Lamb is leading the four-campus system until a new president is hired.

Forsee is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Rolla and serves on the board of trustees for his alma mater. Although such ties are not a requirement for the job, curators have said they prefer a leader with an existing connection to the state and its university system.

It’s fairly common for governors to meet with the finalist for the university presidency.

In November 2002, one of Floyd’s first stops was an introductory meeting with then-Gov. Bob Holden at the Governor’s Mansion. Floyd’s gubernatorial meeting occurred the same day the Board of Curators publicly confirmed he had been hired. Floyd previously served four years as president of Western Michigan University.

Curators had hoped to hire New Jersey businessman Terry Sutter as Floyd’s replacement. But Sutter rejected the offer in June to instead become chief operating officer of a Florida steel manufacturer. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, a Columbia Republican, also was a finalist during the initial search.

Curators subsequently changed the search process to require at least two interviews with finalists before the next offer.

The board is scheduled to meet in Kansas City next week.


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