Members of the search committee for a president of the University of Missouri System were chosen Wednesday by its Board of Curators and will include the head of the Columbia campus’ Black Studies Department and the leader of the Kansas City campus’ Multicultural Student Organization Council.
The curators, meeting at the Kansas City Airport Marriott, decided that the search committee should include all the curators, including the student representative to the board, plus another student, two faculty members, a staff member and two co-chairs from the alumni community.
They then approved Stephanie Shonekan, the Black Studies chair and an associate professor of ethnomusicology in Columbia, and Rakeem Golden, a sociology major at UMKC.
They also chose Sheilah Clarke-Ekong, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Joe Boehm, who works in building maintenance at the Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla and heads that campus’ staff council.
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The two co-chairs will be chosen later.
Golden is the first student chosen to serve on a presidential search committee. There could be another student on the panel if the Board of Curators’ nonvoting student representative post, now vacant, is filled.
Three regular voting spots on the board also are vacant.
The curators also approved four open forums to get public comments on the presidential search. They will be April 4 in Rolla and St. Louis, April 6 in Columbia and from noon to 1:30 p.m. April 8 at the Student Union at UMKC.
A staff member said efforts were underway to have the sessions live-streamed on the Internet and to set up email or another way for people to submit questions for the forums and to comment on the search.
The board then went into closed session, which chairwoman Pam Henrickson said was for the purpose of interviewing representatives of companies interested in being the search firm that recruits and screens prospective candidates for the search committee to interview.
The university system currently has an interim president, Mike Middleton, and the Columbia campus has an interim chancellor, Hank Foley. They were appointed in November when, amid student protests of the handling of racial issues, Tim Wolfe resigned as president and R. Bowen Loftin resigned as chancellor. The protests got national attention when the MU football team joined them by voting not to play unless Wolfe resigned.
Also Wednesday, the group Concerned Student 1950, which led the protests, issued a statement expressing disappointment that its eight demands for change were not being met and that the university instead had “punished faculty and staff from the athletic department.”
Elsewhere on the Columbia campus, graduate student workers Wednesday filled the main floor lobby of Jesse Hall to protest the university system’s recent decision to deny their push to be classified as employees.
The Coalition of Graduate Workers, a group of graduate student workers seeking collective bargaining rights, said the university declined to recognize them as employees “because they simply don’t want us to form a graduate employee union,” said Connor Lewis, coalition co-chair.
Graduate students called Wednesday’s eight-hour gathering in the Jesse Hall lobby a “work-in.” They held classes and office hours and did whatever work they had scheduled for the day there in the lobby.
In response, the university referred to a statement it issued two weeks ago: “We believe that the best approach is for the graduate students and our leadership to continue to engage in direct, ongoing communication to seek and achieve collaborative solutions to relevant issues.”
The Star’s Mara Rose Williams contributed to this report.