The quest for a new chancellor

The quest to find a new UMR chancellor began just days after former Chancellor Gary Thomas’ Sept. 1, 2004, announcement that he would retire in August 2005.

On Sept. 14, 2004, University of Missouri System President Elson S. Floyd appointed a 20-member committee to assist with the search. The group included UMR faculty, staff, students, alumni and Rolla community representatives. The committee worked with an executive recruitment firm to find three candidates to present to Floyd, who made the final decision.

With Larry Gragg, Curators’ Teaching Professor of history and political science, at the helm, the committee held open meetings last October to give faculty, staff, students and the Rolla community a chance to share their thoughts on the traits they hoped to find in a new chancellor. Armed with that feedback, the group narrowed its focus.

It wasn’t long until the search process became a controversial one.

The recruitment firm suggested that the best candidates would be drawn to a closed search – one that allowed the campus community no input on the choice of finalists. The committee agreed.

The decision initially drew several complaints. “The committee understood why people were angry about the closed search and we sought to deal with it by meeting with any group that wished to discuss it with us,” Gragg says. After several meetings, the committee voted to confirm its decision for a closed search, but the committee received no more emails expressing opposition to the decision.

Gragg believes the move for a closed search was a good decision.

“Committee members are firmly persuaded that the closed search produced a stronger pool of candidates,” Gragg says. “Indeed, most of the finalists indicated that they would not have considered the position had it been an open search.”

In December, the group reviewed applications and selected 10 candidates for off-campus interviews, which were held in January. In February, five finalists were brought to campus for a second round of interviews. The committee presented President Floyd with its top three finalists on March 2 and an official announcement of Jack Carney’s hiring was made on March 24.

“While the search was very time consuming, it truly was worth it from the committee’s perspective,” Gragg adds. “The members are very excited to be able to attract a leader of Jack Carney’s caliber as our next chancellor.”

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