Missouri State University today named Clifton M. “Clif” Smart III the school’s new president.
Smart had served as interim president of the Springfield university for 16 months.
Gordon Elliott, chairman of the university’s Board of Governors, made the announcement before 450 students, faculty and community members at the Plaster Student Union theater on campus.
“The board believed that the 16-month experience the university had with Clif Smart was so positive and productive that it didn’t want to change direction or lose momentum,” Elliott said, according to a statement released this morning.
After a 20-year legal career, Smart came to Missouri State in 2007 as the school’s general counsel. In June 2011 he was named interim president after former president James E. Cofer Sr. announced he was returning to the faculty.
Elliot said university administrators expect Smart “will lead the university well for many years to come.”
Smart thanked the search committee and the Board of Governors for selecting him. He said he that in the months he led the school he had challenged university administrators and staff “to think bigger and bolder so this university becomes what we all want it to be.”
University administrators credit Smart for a record enrollment this fall of 23,071 students and a record for private gifts in a single year with more than $20 million in donations. Smart also is responsible for handing out a salary increase to employees for the first time in three years and hiring the first permanent vice president for diversity, the university said.
Missouri State, a public, four-year university, has about 12,000 alumni living in the Kansas City area.