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UM General Counsel announces plans to step down in March 2022


Christian Basi

COLUMBIA, Mo. — After serving for 14 years as the general counsel of the University of Missouri System, Steve Owens announced his plans to leave his position on March 1, 2022. Owens also served as interim UM System president and as interim University of Missouri-Columbia chancellor at different points during his tenure, becoming the only individual in the history of the university to hold all three positions.

“While we hate to see him leave, we wish Steve and his family our absolute best,” said Darryl Chatman, chair of the Board of Curators. “He has served this university with distinction and provided us with excellent advice throughout his 14 years. We will certainly have some big shoes to fill finding his replacement.”

As general counsel for the university, Owens reports directly to the Board of Curators and is charged with providing legal advice and service to the board and the university. Owens, who has been commuting weekly between his home in Kansas City and Columbia for 14 years, said he is stepping down to live full-time with his family in Kansas City while continuing to practice law with the Husch Blackwell firm.

“I will miss my colleagues at the university dearly, but I look forward to continuing to practice law and having more time with my wife, Cindy, and our children and grandchild,” Owens said. “The University of Missouri has a long and storied past and a very bright future. I have been fortunate to have played a small role in this great institution, and I will treasure that as I watch what is accomplished in the future.”

“Steve has provided excellent counsel and has been a rock for many of us through the most challenging periods in our history. We will sorely miss him and his steady leadership,” said Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri. “During my service to the UM System, I have relied immensely on his counsel and wisdom. He has always had the best interests of the university in mind every day and serves as a role model for many of us as we continue to achieve excellence and serve the interests of the citizens of Missouri.”

Owens has served as general counsel since 2008, and currently directs a legal team of 15 attorneys and five staff members. He also serves on the board of directors four-person executive committee for the 5,000-member National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA), where he is treasurer and is the former chair of the Council on Diversity and Inclusivity for NACUA.

In his position, Owens worked to expand the university’s conduct hotline, researched and conceptualized the university-wide compliance program, identified and filled the university’s needs for specialty legal services, such as intellectual property, health care and complex transactions. As interim UM System president, he led the MU conference realignment analysis and negotiations resulting in Mizzou joining the Southeastern Conference in 2012.


Reviewed 2021-12-02