ALAN SCHER ZAGIER
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe expects the search for the Columbia campus' next chancellor to differ in at least one key way from the job hunt that led to his hiring. This time, there actually will be a choice from among a group of top candidates.
The former software company executive was the lone finalist before his December 2011 hiring by the university's Board of Curators. Now it's Wolfe's turn to select Brady Deaton's replacement, and the UM president said Thursday he expects a recently hired executive search firm to help winnow the pool of candidates to a handful of finalists - ideally, three or four names.
"There was a bit of criticism," he told about 30 faculty members and campus workers at a chancellor search forum. "The board was the search committee, and there was one finalist - me."
"I thought it was great," he joked.
Those finalists also will be interviewed by an advisory committee representing faculty, staff, alumni and students from the system's four campuses. Wolfe said he doesn't expect the curators to actively participate in the search, and nor do university rules require their involvement, but he will present them with his choice in advance. He hopes to finalize the search committee's membership before the end of the week.
The next chancellor will take over a campus where student enrollment is expected to top 35,000 in the fall semester, with near-annual increases over the past decade. That growth has come amid frequent, if incremental, tuition increases and declining state support. Private fundraising will be among the chancellor's top priority, along with building relationships in Jefferson City and representing Mizzou on the national and global stages.
Deaton plans to step down in November after nine years as chancellor but will remain in Columbia as executive director of a new international development research center bearing his name.
In an interview with The Associated Press after the campus forum, Wolfe called Deaton's decision to retire the result of a "mutual conversation."
"Brady and I have been talking about his aspirations as chancellor, and his next career steps," Wolfe said. "We decided that this was the best course of action."
Deaton was not immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon. At his retirement announcement in June, he said he doesn't plan to pursue other leadership opportunities in higher education, including any other job as a chancellor or university president.
In his introductory comments, Wolfe told the audience he won't try to steer any preferred candidates to the search committee, or otherwise seek to influence the leadership hunt until Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates of suburban Los Angeles has done its due diligence on the interested applicants.
"I have no idea who's in the candidate pool," he said. "I have no influence."
The company's recent work includes the chancellor search at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and presidential searches at Carnegie Mellon and California State University, Los Angeles. The headhunters also helped locate Hank Foley, the Missouri system's new vice president for academic affairs, who came from Penn State.
Wolfe has cited that relatively quick process as one of the reasons he selected the California firm. He hopes to have Deaton's successor in place by the time the chancellor departs rather than have to appoint an interim leader at the flagship campus.
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