Forsee officially named next UM System president

Thursday, December 20, 2007 | 5:33 p.m. CST; updated 9:46 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Former Sprint-Nextel CEO Gary Forsee gives his inaugural speech as the new president of the four-campus UM System at the Reynolds Alumni Center at MU in December of 2007.

COLUMBIA — The University of Missouri System’s new president said he is “humbled and honored” to take over leadership of the four-campus system. Gary Forsee, 57, was introduced Thursday by Don Walsworth, chair of the UM Board of Curators. Forsee will take over the position from interim president Gordon Lamb on Feb. 18. Lamb was named executive vice president of the UM System and vowed to help Foresee make the transition to the president’s job.

The announcement was made at the Reynolds Alumni Center to an audience of legislators, media, UM officials, curators and members of the Presidential Selection Advisory Committee.

Gary Forsee at a glance

Born: Kansas City, 1950. He spent his childhood in Moberly, St. Joseph and Cape Girardeau. Family: He has been married to Sherry Snell Forsee for 35 years. The couple has two daughters, Melanie Bell and Dr. Kara Forsee, both of whom are MU graduates. The family has lived in Hannibal, Kansas City, Joplin, Springfield, Charleston and St. Louis. Education: University of Missouri-Rolla, bachelor’s degree, engineering. He was a staff member on the school newspaper and president of Kappa Sigma fraternity. Career: He has more than 35 years of experience in telecommunications. He began his career with Southwestern Bell in Kansas City in 1972. He moved to the parent company, AT&T, in 1981. He joined Sprint in Washington D.C. in 1989, and he later became president and chief operating officer of the long-distance division. Next, he became president and CEO of Global One, a joint venture between Sprint, Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom. He later joined BellSouth Corp. and chaired the board of Cingular Wireless. In 2003, he retuned to Kansas City as the chairman and CEO of Sprint Nextel. Volunteer: He served as a Scoutmaster and chaired the Chamber of Commerce in Charleston. He has led campaigns for United Way and the March of Dimes. He presently serves on the University of Missouri-Rolla’s Board of Trustees.

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Forsee, who stepped down from Sprint Nextel Corp. in October, is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Rolla. He agreed to a three-year contract with an annual salary of $400,000. He could also earn $100,000 a year in incentives after completion of his contract.

Forsee, a veteran of the telecommunications industry, said he has a lot to learn about running a system of large, public universities. But he said his skills as a corporate leader will help him make the transition to an academic setting.

“I have to go back to school,” he said, “and I’m prepared to do that.”

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