Missouri Southern narrows president search

John Hacker

The president of a small university in Oklahoma and a vice president of a larger university in Tennessee were named the two finalists for the job of President of Missouri Southern State University by a 15-member search committee.

The two candidates are Dr. Joe A. Wiley, president of Rogers State University, Claremore, Okla., and Dr. Bruce W. Speck, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tenn.

Dwight Douglas, chairman of the Missouri Southern Board of Governor and chairman of the search committee, said the two candidates will be in Joplin to answer questions from the public next week.

Douglas said Speck will be in Joplin for a public reception and forum starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16. Wiley’s public reception and forum will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17.

Both will meet in closed session with the Board of Governors, which will hold its next regular meeting at 1 p.m., Friday, Jan. 18. Douglas said it would be up to the board whether they wanted to choose a president at that meeting.

Michael Kennedy, president of the Missouri Southern Faculty Senate, served on the search committee and said he believes the university got the best candidates.

“I think that of the applicants we received, the applications and information that we got, that we got the best two candidates of the whole lot,“ Kennedy said. “Their interest in Missouri Southern and fit with Missouri Southern, I think, is right down the line with what we needed and we got the best two candidates we could come up with.”

Kennedy said the two finalists demonstrated good relationships with the faculty at their previous jobs.

“I liked their approach to faculty concerns and their relationship with faculty and the way that they view the faculty position,” Kennedy said. “They see that we’re not just teachers, we’re part of the university family and we understand the students and needs of the university. They both came across very strong in that they supported the fact that it goes beyond giving us a paycheck and putting us in the classroom.”

Douglas said the search committee, which included Carthage residents Caroline Phelps, a former member of the MSSU Board of Regents, and David Hafner, CEO of Leggett and Platt, sifted through 42 applications to come down to the two finalists.

“The search committee, at the end of the day, has voted out unanimously to the Board of Governors two candidates to be considered for the position of president.”

Carthage Press