Stephen J. Owens was appointed General Counsel of the University of Missouri System on January 22, 2008, following the retirement of Marvin E. “Bunky” Wright.
As General Counsel, Owens is responsible for leading the General Counsel Office in providing legal representation for the board of curators; the public corporation known as The Curators of the University of Missouri; all administrators of the University of Missouri System and each of its campuses; University of Missouri Extension; and University of Missouri Health System. In addition, his office also is responsible for providing legal representation to university employees who are sued for their good faith actions arising within the scope of their employment for the university.
Owens served as interim president of the University of Missouri System for more than a year (Jan. 7, 2011 - Feb. 14, 2012) following the resignation of University of Missouri System President Gary D. Forsee (view archived communications). During this period, Owens worked closely with other university general officers, including chancellors of the four campuses, to continue pursuing the strategic priorities and initiatives of the university, emphasizing the preservation and promotion of quality and excellence in institutional core missions. Owens served with distinction in this role during a heightened period of activity at the university. In addition, Owens served as the interim chancellor of the University of Missouri-Columbia (Nov. 15, 2013 - Jan. 31, 2014) following the retirement of Chancellor Brady Deaton.
Before coming to the university, Owens was engaged in private legal practice for 26 years with Kansas City based law firm of Stinson Morrison Hecker, LLP (now Stinson Leonard Street). His practice emphasized business litigation, collegiate sports law, contracts and administrative law. Additionally, he served as the firm's hiring chairman; member of the firm's board of directors and its executive committee; and as chairman of the firm's business litigation division and its class action and complex litigation division. Prior to joining the firm, Owens served as a judicial law clerk to the Hon. William R. Collinson, United States District Court Judge for the Western District of Missouri.
Owens received his bachelor's degree in public administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia and his J.D. from the Wake Forest University School of Law. He is admitted to practice in the State of Missouri; United States District Courts for the Western District of Missouri and the District of Kansas; and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Tenth Circuits.