Who Will Replace Tim Wolfe? The University Of Missouri System President's Resignation Leaves An Open Door
On Monday morning, University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe stepped down as hundreds of students called for his resignation through protests, a hunger strike, and a football player boycott. Students were concerned that Wolfe — who oversees four campuses in the state, including the main campus in Columbia, Missouri — inadequately responded to racist incidents and ensuing protests. But who will replace Tim Wolfe as president? The Concerned Student 1950 group released a list of demands in late October, and one of them included an idea for how to select the next system leader.
Along with demands that Wolfe step down and apologize for his inaction, Concerned Student 1950 wants the university to create and enforce a "comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum," to increase the percentage of black faculty and staff, and to compose a strategic 10-year plan that will "increase retention rates for marginalized students, sustain diversity curriculum and training, and promote a more safe and inclusive campus." But there was also a line that indicated how the group wants the next president to be chosen:
After [Wolfe's] removal, a new amendment to UM system policies must be established to have all future UM system president and Chancellor positions be selected by a collective of students, staff, and faculty of diverse backgrounds.
It will take a while before a replacement is found. Wolfe, who graduated from the University of Missouri with a business degree in 1980, accepted the position in February 2012. According to the Columbia Missourian, he said at the time that he hoped it would be "a very long and last role of my career." The previous president had stepped down in January 2011 — meaning the current precedent for choosing a new system president shows finding a replacement could take about a year. There will likely be an interim president, but that person has yet to be named.
Several Missouri politicians and local leaders have spoken out about Wolfe's resignation and what this means for the future of the university. Secretary of State Jason Kander said students had "clearly lost faith in the administration's ability to make meaningful change in race relations on campus," and Sen. Claire McCaskill said it was the right decision. Jermaine Reed, a councilman in Kansas City and MU grad, said in a statement:
The selection of new leadership is an opportunity to develop Mizzou into a more inclusive community, where students from different races, religious affiliation, and backgrounds can receive a stellar public education that will prepare them for the rigors of the world.
While it might take while to determine who will replace Wolfe, it will likely be more of a group effort this time around. Wolfe was chosen specifically for his business savvy; he served 20 years as an executive at IBM and also was president of Novell Americas, a software company. With Wolfe now gone, perhaps in the search for his replacement, the Board of Curators and whoever's opinion they might seek will choose someone who can better understand students and how racism can play an entrenched role on campus.
Image: Terry Robinson/Flickr (1)