Open forum hosted by provost search committee focuses on necessary experience, leadership qualities

The search committee consists of 21 students, deans, faculty and staff members and will meet regularly before selecting candidates.

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Garnett Stokes, who will start her new job as president at the University of New Mexico on March 1. courtesy of the University of Missouri

The search committee for MU’s next provost and executive vice chancellor held an open forum Monday in the Reynolds Alumni Center.

The provost position opened in November when Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Garnett Stokes accepted the position of president at the University of New Mexico. Jim Spain was appointed interim provost, effective Feb. 1.

Joi Moore, professor and director of the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies, and Marshall Stewart, vice chancellor for extension and engagement at MU Extension, hosted the event and prompted responses from the audience.

Moore and Stewart also co-chair the search committee, a group of 21 students, deans, faculty and staff members who “will work over the next six months to identify candidates for this important leadership role for Mizzou,” according to a statement made by Chancellor Alexander Cartwright on Dec. 20.

The forum was meant to gather input from community members at MU and ensure all aspects of the university are represented, Marshall said.

Audience members responded to three different categories posed by Marshall and Moore. The first was experience, and the co-chairs asked the room what they’d like their next provost to know before starting work.

Noor Azizan-Gardner, assistant vice chancellor for administration at the Division of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity, said she would like to see a provost with a sense of “global awareness.”

The next category, leadership qualities, initiated several responses from audience members, including Azizan-Gardner again, who said being able to work with people is important to understanding the university and its culture as a whole.

“Culture is critical in implementing strategies we have as a university,” she said.

Additionally, graduate student Eric Scott said he would like to see a provost who is transparent in behavior and allows open discussion of their policies and behavior.

Finally, Moore and Marshall asked for other “key areas” the community would like to see addressed broadly.

Brittani Fults, an education and prevention coordinator with the Office for Civil Rights & Title IX, said she wants a provost who is able to adjust policies as MU sees fit rather than sticking to the status quo. She said a lot of the people she works with often don’t want to come forward during sexual assault and harassment incidents due to the process.

“How do we make sure that the academy is not only a place to grow academically, but personally as well?” she said. “So, how are we as an institution enabling a culture of silence by saying they need to go through this process and it’s just how [MU] does that?”

Fultz said she would also like the next provost to bring new ideas to the university and be “someone who can bring people to the table who maybe weren’t at the table before.”

Moore explained the process for finding a new provost. She said there will most likely be other “listening sessions,” such as this forum and afterward; the search committee will begin recruitment after looking through the nominations. From there, the committee will look at screening the selection.

“If you have any other comments or questions, we welcome them,” Marshall said. “This is not the end; it’s actually just the beginning.”

Moore and Marshall advised people to follow the selection of the next provost at the chancellor’s website, where they said updates will be posted as frequently as possible.

Edited by Morgan Smith | mosmith@themaneater.com

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