The Board of Governors of Missouri Southern State University is taking proactive steps to include faculty, staff and community in the search for the University's 5th President. These efforts have led to the creation of a top-notch search committee and two focus groups in order to obtain input from a wide spectrum of individuals.
The Missouri Southern President reports to the Board of Governors and is the chief executive officer of the institution. The Board is dedicated to finding a man or woman of vision, energy and integrity for the top position. The next President should be a person who celebrates diversity, one who finds the appropiate means to communicate effectively with fellow administrators as well as students, business leaders, donors, and state officials who make crucial decisions regarding programs and funding.
The next MSSU President must view the priorities and mission of the university through a national and global lens. Missouri Southern's strategic plan is ambitious and the President must lead with decisiveness, passion and skill as the world continues to transform in terms of technology and education policies and procedures.
There is no "set" method for the selection of Presidents of public colleges and universities in the United States. At some schools, the process can be remarkably brief -- at others, it can be protracted. The initial stage of the process often involves the creation of a committee of interested parties and some method of obtaining the input of faculty, staff and members of the community. The thoughts of these individuals provide a valuable exterior voice for those in charge of the decision-making.
When multiple candidates are considered, a selection committee will typically narrow the pool to a "short list," followed by the appropriate background and reference checks. After that point, members of the short list are often invited to the university to meet with the committee and, in most cases, with the larger university community. In all cases, the goal is the same: To choose the best possible President for the school in question. Throughout these steps, the committee and Board will need to consider the types of leadership characteristics that are essential for the position.
Members of the Board of Governors at Missouri Southern and similar governing bodies at other institutions have high expectations. As they choose a new President, some schools will be most concerned with maintaining long-established pathways in regard to leadership style and substance. Others will select a President who embodies a Board's goal of refining its focus and direction. Others may opt for a person capable of instituting measured change as needed. In the same way as in corporations or governments, the individual person chosen for a college or university's top post is of paramount importance to the boards and committees in charge of making the final decision.
Although systems of higher education are sometimes said to be "ruled by committee," in the end, the personality, direction and vision of the President are often seen as parallel to those of the institution as a whole. The choice of a new President is, truly, a monumental decision.