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MU prepares to name new university president

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri is on the verge of hiring a new president and expects to publicly unveil its choice within days.

After a yearlong search, university curators have identified a preferred candidate, chairman Warren Erdman said Friday after a two-day meeting of the governing board at the system’s St. Louis campus. Erdman said the formal hiring and announcement is contingent on finalizing contract negotiations.

“I would hope we might be able to make an announcement next week,” said Erdman, who will step down as chairman in 2012 but remain on the board. His successor is vice chairman David Bradley, publisher of the St. Joseph News-Press.

The university is seeking a replacement for Gary Forsee, who stepped down as president in January to care for his wife as she battles cancer. Interim president Steve Owens has said he is not a candidate for the permanent job and plans to resume his duties as general counsel.

Erdman and Bradley declined to discuss the background or qualifications of the confidential search’s remaining finalist from a pool of 100 candidates considered by the board, which summoned four of those candidates for interviews. Applicants came “from all walks of life,” Bradley said, including business, academic and politics.

Only one of those finalists was interviewed by a 20-member curators’ advisory panel made of professors, students, campus workers and alumni from the four Missouri system campuses. That group quizzed the curators’ first choice for president during a Tuesday meeting in Columbia.

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