Help Wanted at University of Missouri

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 29, 1996 | Go to article overview

Help Wanted at University of Missouri


First the chancellor of the University of Missouri at Columbia, now the president of the entire four-campus university system are leaving. Chancellor Charles A. Kiesler at Mizzou was fired; President George A. Russell says his departure is voluntary, adding that he always planned to leave his job when it wasn't fun any longer. Given the friction on the Board of Curators and sharp split between Mr. Kiesler and Mr. Russell, "fun" hardly seems like the word for the upper echelons at the university.

Mr. Russell was chosen as president in 1991, at age 70, at a time he had already enjoyed a long tenure as chancellor of the Kansas City campus. His selection, without the search process customary when universities seek a new chief executive, took many observers of the school by surprise. At his age, they thought, Mr. Russell would likely be just a caretaker until a real president could be chosen.

The truth was far different. As he showed by the way he moved the curators to oust Mr. Kiesler, Mr. Russell held firm control of the university. Even at age 75, he has a contract with nearly another year to run. But when the curators voted to remove the chancellor at Mizzou, an effort was also made to get rid of Mr. Russell. Though he managed to avoid getting fired then, he apparently felt that continuing in office under a divided board was not the best situation for him or, as he commented last week, for the university as a whole.

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