Curators narrowing search for MU president

KANSAS CITY (AP) — The governing body of the University of Missouri system hopes to have a short list of candidates within two weeks for the presidency of the four-campus system.

The Board of Curators is seeking for a replacement for former President Gary Forsee, who stepped down in January to care for his wife as she battled cancer. The curators had private discussions about the search during their two-day meeting this week in Kansas City, and board Chairman Warren Erdman said the curators are “making great progress.”

“We are narrowing down the field to the point where I would think within the next two weeks, we will probably be to a group of finalists,” Erdman said during a post-meeting news conference on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. “We’re getting down to a small pool.”

The curators had reported having more than 100 potential candidates for the job of overseeing the Missouri system and Erdman said they will take their short list to a 20-member advisory committee formed earlier this year to help the curators with the search. He said the curators have not decided how many candidates will be on the short list.

He also said there is no firm deadline for when a new president will be selected.

“I have said from the beginning from this process that I will not set deadlines, because when you set deadlines, you preclude some of your options,” Erdman told reporters.

The Missouri system, with its flagship campus in Columbia and others in Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis, has nearly 72,000 students and 7,800 faculty members. It also includes the University of Missouri health care system, which provides services around the state.

Forsee, a former chairman and chief executive of Sprint Nextel Corp., was hired by the curators in December 2007 and spent much of his first year dealing with the system’s budget issues. He was credited with increasing the system’s commitment to research and economic development, reorganizing the university health care system and bringing a more business-oriented approach to the campuses.

Until Forsee’s replacement is named, Steve Owens is serving as acting president. He’d previously served as the system’s general counsel and has said he’s not interested in the president’s job.

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