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Missouri State University’s new president has just wrapped up his first week on the job. Dr. James Cofer, Sr., came to MSU from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where he also held the position of president. He spoke to KSMU’s Jennifer Moore about why he decided to apply, and what he will focus on from here.
When asked why he decided to apply for the opening at MSU, Cofer said it caught his eye partly because he was familiar with the university from the days when he worked for the University of Missouri. Before joining ULM, Cofer worked for the University of Missouri System as vice president for finance and administration.
“We always looked at Missouri State as one of those great institutions beginning to come into their own,” Cofer said.
“I think more than anything is the opportunity to work in an institution with a strong foundation, and make it an even stronger institution,” Cofer said, adding that he and his wife enjoyed living in Missouri before.
In his first “Dear Colleague” newsletter to MSU faculty and staff, Cofer wrote that the university will have to build a budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 “that will reflect some reductions and reallocations.”
He said he has a process in mind on determining how those cuts might be made, and that it’s a process that has been used before.
“I don’t believe in sitting in my office and determining what we’re going to cut,” Cofer said.
“I believe in a very inclusive process that starts at the departmental and college level in academics and faculty to discuss what’s important to them, what they can do, at their level, to advise us on budget cuts,” Cofer said.
Cofer said his wife, Deborah, plans to be involved in MSU like she was at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
“What Deborah does is kind of fills the gap, if you will. If there’s an area that needs attention, she’s willing to go into those areas,” Cofer said.
“She’ll find her place. And then she’ll fit in, and she’ll go right to work,” Cofer said of his wife, who was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2008 for her work in Louisiana.
The new president said the theme that makes him unique is his focus on the wellbeing of the university’s students.
“I’ll always ask how a decision is going to affect students,” he said. Cofer said he and his wife like to attend student activities, whether they be cultural, social or atheletic events.
“We like to watch them grow,” he said.
Dr. James E. Cofer, Sr. began his job as president of Missouri State University on August 1.