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Progress inspires UM Board of Curators to extend president’s contract by two years


Christian Basi

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – At the annual University of Missouri Board of Curators Development Session, the board expressed appreciation for the growth and improvement made at the UM System and the four universities over the past academic year. In a show of support and confidence in the current leadership, the curators voted unanimously to extend System President Mun Choi’s contract by two years. Following the vote, Choi’s contract will now expire in 2024.

“In less than 18 months, Mun Choi has come to the University of Missouri System and completely transformed this institution restoring us to excellence,” Board Chair David Steelman said. “Under his watch, the university has found new and innovative ways to save money; improved the climate for our faculty, staff and students; and repaired relationships with our elected officials. We want to make sure he stays at the university for years to come.”

“Dr. Mun Choi’s vision and leadership has helped stabilize our flagship university and brought back open communication that has resulted in the trust that faculty, staff, students and stakeholders need,” Governor Mike Parson said. “This contract extension is well deserved, and I look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Choi as we move Missouri forward.”

Since arriving in March 2017, Choi has worked with university leaders to accomplish several goals and initiatives, including:

  • Working with the curators and general officers to create a University of Missouri System that is transparent, accountable, efficient and enduring in its commitment to achieve excellence.
  • Increasing enrollment at all four universities, including a predicted 13 percent increase at the University of Missouri-Columbia this fall.
  • Hiring permanent chancellors at the University of Missouri-Columbia (Alexander Cartwright) and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (Mauli Agrawal).
  • Emphasizing the growth of extramural research at all four universities, including the Precision Medicine Initiative and the Translational Precision Medical Complex.
  • Improving relationships with elected officials, resulting in the state restoring the UM budget appropriation.
  • Eliminating a number of top administrative positions at the UM System resulting in savings that could be applied to student success or research support across the four universities.
  • Affirming Freedom of Speech for people of all views at all four universities.
  • Creating new programs that provide students with low-cost or free text books, and signing a contract with McGraw-Hill to keep online textbook prices low.
  • Implementing new benefit policies for staff to help them achieve greater fulfillment and success in their profession.

“President Choi’s work to improve affordability, address the culture of our universities and deepen a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and ensure that we are hiring and retaining great faculty and staff has been very impressive in his short time here,” said Darryl Chatman, vice chair of the Board of Curators. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know President Choi, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the future as the University of Missouri System continues to achieve great accomplishments and respond to the needs of the state.”

“Currently, more than 770 employees at Burns & McDonnell earned their degrees from the University of Missouri System,” said Ray Kowalik, chairman and CEO of Burns & McDonnell. “In fact, I’m a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, and the schools have consistently been on top of our list of the most graduates starting with us. I have spent time with Mun Choi personally, and I know the University has a tremendous future and is in great hands.”

Per Choi’s request, his compensation will not change as a result of the contract extension.

“I’m honored by the faith the board has demonstrated in my leadership,” Choi said. “It is a privilege to lead the University of Missouri System. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful team of leaders and advisors that have helped me in my first year. I could not have been as successful without their dedication and the support of faculty, staff and students to this historic institution.”

“In his short time here, President Choi has always put our students first,” said Courtney Lauer, University of Missouri student representative to the board and chair of the Intercampus Student Council. “He has been responsive to student requests and has created a very inclusive atmosphere, ensuring that students have a voice on any policy changes or major decisions that impact students directly. He’s also very enthusiastic about hearing the personal stories of those around him; he wants to hear how the university can help students be successful in their college career. I’m glad to know that future students at the university will have an opportunity to benefit from his leadership.” 

At the same meeting, board members presented a plan that would organize roles and responsibilities for the UM System, the four UM universities and the leaders at all levels. For the past year, Chatman has led a taskforce of university leaders, faculty and staff that has examined the mission, vision, executive philosophy and guiding principles of the university. As a result, Chatman presented a report that provided direction to university leaders, defining specific roles in an effort to remain transparent and accountable to internal and external communities that the university serves. The Curators also approved changes to two Collected Rules and Regulations (20.010, General Organization; and 20.030, Executive Philosophy).

“I’d like to thank every member of the task force for their time, energy, passion and expertise,” Chatman said. “This report is the result of many hours of work and good conversation. I believe it provides a solid foundation that will help us define how we work with President Choi, the four chancellors and the universities in the future. I’m very excited about what the future holds for the University of Missouri System.”

To view the First Amendment to the Contract for Employment, click here.


Reviewed 2018-07-27