MU announced Thomas Spencer as the new vice chancellor for research and economic development after he spent eight months in the role as an interim appointment.

Spencer serves as the chief research officer in this position and is responsible for fostering relations across the University of Missouri System. He helps faculty obtain federal grants, license discoveries and share them with the greater public.

He will also continue his work in implementing the NextGen Precision Health Initiative, which prioritizes medical health research. The initiative launched in 2019, and the building it will be housed in will be completed in the fall.

“This is really going to elevate our research, excellence and our ability to impact Missourians,” Spencer said of the initiative. 

A reproductive and developmental biologist, Spencer has experience working with academic leaders and coordinating between the departments under research and economic development. He started as a professor of animal science and obstetrics gynecology in 2015 and held a previous role as the associate vice chancellor for research and strategic initiatives in biomedicine and agriculture.

Spencer said his experience as interim vice chancellor gave him the opportunity to interact with the staff and to develop the leadership skills necessary to take on the position. It was a process he lightheartedly referred to as “on-the-job training.”

“I think those experiences allow me to gain a better, kind of more holistic understanding of what is going on at the University of Missouri campus,” Spencer said.

Spencer’s predecessor Mark McIntosh retired in August 2020. Spencer was selected as interim vice chancellor in January.

“I feel like I’m making a positive impact, particularly on the people who the office serves,” Spencer said.

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