The UM System Board of Curators voted to combine the roles of University of Missouri System president and MU chancellor Tuesday, approving a new governing structure that aims to centralize authority and reduce costs.

Mun Choi will serve in the combined chief executive role, granting him unprecedented authority since the UM System’s creation in 1963. The curators extended his contract by two years — to June 30, 2026 — but his pay remains the same.

The vote confirms Choi as permanent MU chancellor. He will directly oversee all operations at the Columbia campus while supervising the campuses in St. Louis, Kansas City and Rolla.

The resolution detailing the new structure, unanimously approved by the board, also creates a Council of Chancellors. This council, chaired by Choi with the other three campuses’ chancellors as members, will meet monthly to discuss challenges and opportunities, exchange information and collaborate between campuses.

Curators said during the meeting they believed the council, as well as the board, would provide sufficient oversight and prevent any potential conflicts of interest given Choi’s dual role.

A committee comprised of two representatives from each of the four universities will advise the Council of Chancellors on matters specific to their campuses, according to the resolution. Members on that committee are required to attend at least two Board of Curators meetings per year and will provide the board updates on how the new governing model has impacted their campuses.

The new governing structure underlines a desire by the board to more clearly define both the purpose of the system — and how it interacts with and impacts its four campuses — and the role of system president. The resolution passed Tuesday instructs the Council of Chancellors to provide feedback on the following questions within 120 days:

• What role and services should the UM System provide?

• What should be the role of the president?

• What should be the role of the chancellors?

• What will be the scope of the council and how should it function within the parameters set forth herein?

• What will the campus advisory committee advise on, how frequently will it meet with the council, and who will serve on it?

In the weeks prior to Tuesday’s vote, faculty at three of the system’s four campuses publicly opposed the decision. Councils representing faculty at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Missouri-St. Louis expressed concerns about potential conflicts of interest and undermining of their campuses’ authority and funding.

Curators have met with over 300 constituents and groups — including faculty, staff, students, trustees, community leaders and elected officials — about the decision, Chair Julia Brncic said in a Monday email to all four campuses notifying them of the meeting.

Brncic and Curator Michael Williams said in letters responding to the three campuses’ faculty bodies that they would address those concerns within the resolution and as the new structure was implemented. The board repeatedly emphasized Tuesday their goal of empowering the system’s chancellors.

“We have four really good chancellors,” Williams said. “I think they have the knowledge, the wherewithal to know which jobs can be spread out. I propose we do new job descriptions for all four. The chancellors would enjoy the chance to run their campus while still looking at what is in the best interest of the university.”

The MU Faculty Council did not take any formal action about the pending decision at their meeting last Thursday, but Chair Clark Peters said he had received over 12 pages’ worth of comments on the decision from faculty that he planned to send to the board prior to their vote.

However, MU faculty did challenge Choi, himself, on recent comments and actions in that meeting, condemning his remarks discouraging internal dissent and refusal to move a Thomas Jefferson statue on campus.

Several said those comments and actions had bred a culture of intimidation among university employees and furthered concerns leading up to his confirmation as permanent chancellor.

Choi disagreed with that assessment, repeating that he worked for the best interest of the university and to be transparent in communicating with all university stakeholders.

Brncic said the board backed Choi in his decision-making and were confident with him as head of the university.

“The board has been behind President Choi lockstep, has approved all the actions he has taken,” she said in a news conference Tuesday. “We’re very much aware of the situation and we have the utmost ability in him to lead.”

Brncic said she “didn’t agree with some of the allegations” made about Choi and how people have framed interactions with him.

“The reason a lot of folks have reinvested in the UM System is because they believe in President Choi’s leadership,” she said.

TITLE IX

The board also discussed and approved changes to the university’s Collected Rules and Regulations related to Title IX on Tuesday, bringing them into compliance with federal changes released in May. UM and all other public U.S. universities are required to do so before Aug. 14.

UM had already been in compliance with several of the changed guidelines, Williams said. All university employees will remain mandated reporters under the new guidelines, and mandated reporting requirements were extended to include discrimination and harassment.

MU Health Care will follow an alternate Title IX process rather than the usual hearing process set out for academic medical centers, which is allowed under the new federal guidelines. That process involves a single decision maker but retains most of the rights of both parties, said Kathy Bunn, general counsel for the system. The hospital’s Title IX process will be done differently than campuses to maintain patient privacy and follow HIPAA.

  • Galen Bacharier is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. He has reported on higher education, state government and breaking news. Reach him at galenbacharier@gmail.com or on Twitter @galenbacharier.

  • As senior editor of the Missourian, Fred Anklam manages general assignment reporters. He can be reached at anklamf@missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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