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Wolfe appoints transition leaders at University of Missouri - Columbia

COLUMBIA, Mo. –University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe announced today the appointment of transition leaders at the University of Missouri – Columbia for the interim period between chancellors. They are Steve Owens, a former interim president for the system and current general counsel who will serve as interim chancellor, and current MU Deputy Chancellor Mike Middleton as deputy chancellor and transition executive. President Wolfe’s appointment of the transition leadership, which was approved by the University of Missouri Board of Curators on October 23, is effective on November 15 at the close of the day.

The board also appointed Phil Hoskins as acting general counsel for the system, also effective November 15, and he will serve in that role until Owens returns to his current position as general counsel.

The University of Missouri is currently engaged in a national search for Mizzou’s new chancellor, and Owens and Middleton are not candidates for the position. Current Chancellor Brady Deaton will officially step down on November 15.

“Our search for a new chancellor at MU remains on schedule, and I am confident we will get an excellent candidate out of our process,” Wolfe said. “In the meantime, it is imperative that the daily operations of the university continue to run smoothly, and I am confident that Steve Owens and Mike Middleton will use their experience to provide leadership that will maintain the university’s momentum during the transition period.”

Owens served as interim president of the University of Missouri System from January 9, 2011 through February 15, 2012. During this period, he worked closely with other university general officers including chancellors on the four campuses to continue pursuing strategic priorities and initiatives of the university emphasizing the preservation and promotion of quality and excellence in institutional core mission.  

Under his leadership, the university balanced its $2.7 billion budget despite an 8% reduction in state support and a projected $42 million revenue shortfall, while faculty and staff received their first pay raise in three years. Also during his tenure, he helped secure stability for the University of Missouri - Columbia’s athletic program and budget by working with Chancellor Deaton and the university’s governing board to move the school from the Big 12 Conference to the Southeastern Conference, which became effective July 1, 2012; the university’s 50-year old pension plan was reformed; a rule reiterating academic freedom for faculty and protection of student classroom discussion was promulgated; and a search was launched that led to the hiring of Dr. Cheryl Schrader as the first female chancellor of Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The third generation of his family to attend MU, Owens is a 1977 graduate of the university who joined the University of Missouri System as general counsel in January of 2008.

Middleton has served as deputy chancellor at MU since 1998, as a professor in the School of Law since 1985 and as a vice-provost from 1977-1999. Middleton served as deputy chancellor during the terms of both Chancellors Richard Wallace and Brady Deaton during a period of rapid growth in the university’s enrollment and research productivity. As deputy chancellor, Middleton provides exceptional leadership focused on legal, policy and regulatory compliance, operational performance and dispute resolution. Prior to coming to the university in 1985, Middleton served from 1979 to 1985 in the federal government’s Senior Executive Service, providing leadership at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Education where he helped guide both agencies through major organizational transitions.

Middleton received a bachelor’s degree in political science from MU in 1968 and is a 1971 graduate of the MU School of Law.

“The appointment of Steve Owens and Mike Middleton as the transition leaders at MU ensures that the chancellor search committee and the president can exercise all the time needed to perform the necessary due diligence in screening candidates,” said Wayne Goode, chair of the University of Missouri Board of Curators. “It also provides the university with experienced leaders on an interim basis to bridge the transition between Chancellor Deaton’s departure and the arrival of his successor.”

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Reviewed 2013-10-28