Search chairman is confident MU has found new president

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Elson S. Floyd, president of Western Michigan University, has been offered the University of Missouri presidency and the leader of Missouri's search committee said Tuesday he is "certain" that Floyd is coming.

The chairman of Western Michigan's governing board said he had heard nothing from Floyd by Tuesday evening. Floyd was unavailable for comment.

Nonetheless, Paul Steele, a member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators and chairman of the board's presidential search committee, told The Associated Press: "President Floyd is the choice and I am certain that he's coming."

Floyd, 46, would be the first black president in the 163-history of the University of Missouri, which has campuses in Columbia, Rolla, Kansas City and St. Louis. He would succeed Manuel Pacheco, who is retiring at year's end.

"With President Floyd, we not only hit a home run, we won the World Series," Steele said. "He is a very articulate and energetic person and he will serve Missouri well."

Floyd, who became president of Western Michigan on Aug. 1, 1998, was unavailable for comment Tuesday, his office said.

Made counteroffer

A member of the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees said Floyd sent an e-mail to board members on Tuesday morning, asking for their patience as he weighed Missouri's offer. Western Michigan made a counteroffer, but had not heard Floyd's decision as of Tuesday evening, said Richard Y. St. John, chairman of Western Michigan's trustees.

"That we haven't heard from him may mean he's wrestling with this," St. John said in a telephone interview.

Western Michigan wants to keep Floyd, St. John said, "because he's been outstanding in everything that he's done.

"He is an excellent administrator. He is an excellent fund raiser. I think this is important: he's an excellent friend raiser," St. John said. "That means that everywhere he goes, he builds a constituency for our university throughout the city and the counties and the state of Michigan."

Pacheco makes about $260,000 a year; Floyd is making $220,000 annually under a contract that runs through July 31, 2006.

The contract includes the requirement that Floyd provide the Western Michigan trustees with one year's notice before leaving. But asked whether the trustees would hold Floyd to that requirement, St. John said: "I doubt it very much.

"I don't think that has any bearing on this," St. John said of the contract. "I don't think it's about money. It's about the president's career."

Floyd is a native of Henderson, N.C., and earned his undergraduate, masters and doctorate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He spent 13 years in administration at North Carolina, plus three years as a vice president at Eastern Washington University.

The University of Missouri system has about 60,000 students, a $2 billion operation and a statewide presence through the university's extension programs. Western Michigan has about 29,000 students.

The Missouri curators, meeting in a closed session by teleconference, took a vote Monday related to their presidential search -- but are not required by law to disclose the results of a vote for 72 hours.

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