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University of Missouri Board of Curators Names 23rd President

Long Title
University of Missouri Board of Curators Names High-Tech Industry Executive, Alumnus and Missourian as 23rd President

Timothy M. Wolfe Returns to Missouri to Advance University of Missouri System

After nearly two dozen meetings and an almost year-long national outreach, the University of Missouri Board of Curators today announced the appointment of Timothy M. Wolfe, 53, as the 23rd system president. The MU business school alumnus will assume responsibilities presently held by Interim President Stephen J. Owens, effective Feb. 15, 2012.

Board of Curators Chair Warren K. Erdman said Wolfe “matches the qualities” that university employees and citizens across the state said they wanted from the next president during seven statewide forums and dozens of curator visits conducted earlier this year.

“Tim Wolfe comes back to us as a successful graduate with a 30-year career in business,” Erdman said. “He comes back to us now with national and international experience, but with a heart that has always stayed in Missouri….Now he wants to come home and give back to the university that prepared him for his success.”

Wolfe, formerly Novell’s president of the Americas and a 20-year IBM executive, went to Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, where he led the football team to a state championship as its quarterback.  He is the son of two university professors—a father who taught communications and a mother who is a law professor.

“During the months of interviews and conversations, we have learned that our next president cares deeply about Missouri and about our university,” Erdman added.  “He is highly motivated to protect its great traditions and reputation and see it to even higher levels….He listens and respects the opinions of others (and) values their knowledge. He respects the unique role of each of our campuses and understands the nature of our strong campus system….He has passion, vision, experience and humility. He can sell to others the vital importance of our university.”

Erdman said that one of the world’s most prominent voices on leadership and successful organization transformations, Harvard Professor John P. Kotter, gave Wolfe high marks saying: 

“The U.S. Higher Education industry is clearly a global leader. Maintaining its leadership position will require significant change. Leadership and success will hinge on creating a sense of urgency for change that translates into a meaningful strategy that is embraced by the entire institution. I believe Tim Wolfe can help the University of Missouri System create the change agenda that will position them for success in this new global economy.” 

Those familiar with Wolfe’s career in information technology, infrastructure software, consulting and sales acknowledge his ability to recruit, build and lead successful teams through creating innovative strategies and clear execution plans.

“He’s a good communicator,” Erdman added, noting that Wolfe’s career path has required cultivating important relationships with governors and legislators, chief executives and valued employees, customers and other important stakeholders.

Wolfe said he considers his appointment as system president “an honor and a privilege--especially to have the opportunity to lead an institution that has had such a remarkable past and today is advancing this state in so many dimensions. 

“Serving this great university and our state is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and I commit my full attention and energy to this endeavor,” he added.  “It is obvious to me, and it will be one of my goals to make it obvious to our fellow Missourians, that the University of Missouri System is the greatest asset in this state.”  

Wolfe underscored his plan to accelerate his knowledge about the university before moving into University Hall by extensive reading and having key meetings with university officials, campus visits, and meetings with other key stakeholders.

“I intend to initiate a dialogue with the entire university family of faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and supporters about how we will plan for emerging opportunities… where critical new revenue streams come from…and how we can address the learning challenge in the new information age that at the end of the day will result in more student  success,” said Wolfe.  “But before I start this dialogue, I need to learn even more about the University of Missouri System.  There is no short cut to this important education.  It takes time and I will need to take advantage of the incredible experience and knowledge that resides in our faculty, staff, students, alumni and donors….But I am up for the challenge.”

Wolfe added, “After absorbing as much as I can, collectively the system family needs a formal process for charting our future, setting our priorities, and engaging business, political and civic leadership of the state as we go forward.”

“I will work tirelessly with all of you to enable our campuses to realize their full potential and to find the resources necessary to give Missouri the technology, the research, the learning, and the educated citizenry that it needs to compete and to provide meaningful employment for its young people in the future,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe complimented each of the system’s four campuses and University Health System, citing their growth, success and reach for their own individual excellence. 

Wolfe underscored his belief that if the university is to keep up this momentum, which he believes it will, the university will have to continue to find ways to creatively deliver high-quality education to more people at lower cost while finding new sources of revenue to invest in the university’s vital mission. He suggested that more extensive use of technology for e-learning delivery is essential. 

During his remarks, Wolfe introduced his family, including his wife, Molly, twin son and daughter, Tyler and Madison, and his mother and father, Judith and Joe Wolfe.  Joe Wolfe is a retired, tenured faculty member of MU’s College of Arts and Sciences, and his mother earned four degrees at MU, including her law degree.  She is a law professor at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, MA. 

Wolfe thanked the curators, presidential search advisory committee, Owens and the system’s general officers for their generous support and warm welcome, and extended special thanks to Erdman and former President Gary Forsee.

In commenting on Wolfe’s appointment, former system President Gary Forsee said in a written statement, “I applaud the selection of Tim Wolfe as the next president of the University of Missouri System.  As a Missourian, a graduate, and an accomplished executive, he will bring the requisite skills and passion to the role of president.  He understands the critical role of public higher education and the unique role each of the four campuses of the system plays in our state. He understands the stewardship and accountability that he is being entrusted with and all Missourians should reciprocate by giving him their full support.”

Reviewed 2011-12-13