Missouri State University students walk past the John Q. Hammons Fountain in August 2023.
Students at Missouri State University walk between the John Q. Hammons Fountain and the Duane G. Meyer Library Aug. 22, 2023. (Photo by Rance Burger)

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If everything goes according to plan, Missouri State University will know who its incoming president will be in March. 

President Clif Smart on Tuesday outlined the plan the university will follow in selecting its new president. Smart announced his retirement from the presidency will come at the end of the current school year, with a projected end date around the beginning of July 2024.

The plan, listed in his “Clif’s Notes” update on the Missouri State University website, outlines a schedule for the next few months. The first step will happen on Sept. 20, when the Missouri State Board of Governors during its regular meeting will approve members of a search committee, as well as the committee’s chair and vice-chair. 

Smart said the committee will have anywhere from 20 to 25 members, based on who the board selects during that meeting. 

The search committee will include representatives from the board, faculty, staff, students, academic leadership and the West Plains campus, as well as alumni, Springfield community leaders and other stakeholders. People interested in serving on the committee can contact Smart’s office to be considered by the board, he said. 

Search schedule

Missouri State University President Clif Smart. (Photo by Jesse Scheve/Missouri State University)

After the committee members are selected:  

  • A qualifications and input forum will be held from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 2. 
  • The first date of candidate consideration is set for Nov. 1. 
  • Throughout November and December, the committee will meet and select semi-finalists.
  • Those selected semi-finalists will be interviewed by the committee throughout January. 
  • Finalists for the post will visit the Missouri State campus in February for interviews. 

The board of governors is expected to name the university’s new president in March. 

The finalists will spend time on both the Springfield and West Plains campuses, Smart said. 

“We typically have had candidates on campus for two days, spending about two-thirds of the time at Springfield and a third at West Plains,” Smart said. “There are usually one or more open forums, and chances to meet with constituent groups before ultimately being interviewed by the board.”

People will be able to offer input about qualities that search committee members should consider for a new president. A survey is available on a website dedicated to the search. Additionally, input will be gathered during Smart’s State of the University Address set for Oct. 2. 

New board members appointed

When the board of governors meets next week, it will include two new members, whose appointments were announced on Sept. 1 by Gov. Mike Parson. Both are MSU graduates; one works as a financial advisor and the other as a veterinarian.

Travis Freeeman, of Chesterfield, is currently a partner with Moneta Group in St. Louis, an investment advisement firm. He previously worked as a partner with Four Seasons Wealth Management. 

Freeman is a former trustee for the Missouri State Foundation, and is a board member for College Bound and The Fulton School. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance with a minor in economics. 

Melissa Gourley, of Mountain Grove, is a veterinarian at Whetstone Veterinary Service, a business she previously owned. She is also a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and Missouri Veterinary Medical Association.

Gourley previously served as a member of the MSU West Plains Development Board, as well as a federal appropriations committee for Mountain Grove High School. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from MSU, and a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

They replace board members Amy Counts and Carol Silvey, with terms that started on Sept. 1 and end on Jan. 1, 2029. Smart said they have been sworn in as full members. 

Joe Hadsall

Joe Hadsall is the education reporter for the Springfield Daily Citizen. Hadsall has more than two decades of experience reporting in the Ozarks with the Joplin Globe, Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine. Contact him at (417) 837-3671 or jhadsall@sgfcitizen.org. More by Joe Hadsall