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Missouri State University has a new president.
Announcement: "It is my pleasure to introduce to you the 11th president of Missouri State University Mr. Clif Smart." (clapping/band playing)
MSU Board of Governors Chair Gordon Elliott made the announcement in the Plaster Student Union Theatre before a large crowd of faculty, staff and students.
Smart has served as MSU’s interim president for the past 16 months.
Elliott says Smart proved he is capable of the presidency during that time…
"Missouri State University is back on track, setting records and making progress in many areas. Morale is high, and confidence has returned."
Smart says the job comes with challenges including increased competition from other universities and the for-profit segment. He says they’ll need to address questions such as “how will MSU maintain enrollment growth?” “What’s the best way to market the university?” How will MSU continue to make progress in diversity?” And “How will the university continue to fundraise?” He says those challenges can be overcome if no one cares who gets the credit…
"So may commitment to you is to work to improve the quality of our programs, many of which are already outstanding, to aggressively advocate for us in Jefferson City and Washington D.C., to engage our community and state in the higher education community to create partnerships, economic development and more and better opportunities for our students, to expand our reputation and reach throughout our state and our region, to improve our facilities and our capacity for technology."
Smart says he’ll also work to grow alumni outreach efforts, to better define MSU’s public affairs mission, to better serve nontraditional students and to tell the university’s story better.
He says he’ll build on the good work of the current administration and Board of Governors and those before them…
"There are so many people all around our state and our region that are eager for Missouri State to really take its place among the universities. I think people will be onboard to think bigger, to think different, to try new things, to really be out in the state and Jeff City and St. Louis and Kansas City and Northwest Arkansas as we really try to grow into our name and develop the reputation that's consistent with the programs that we have."
Smart’s salary will be $275,000 per year. He and his wife Gail have decided to donate the $40,000 per year housing allowance to the university. $30,000 annually for ten years will go to the newly created Gail and Clif Smart Professorship in Agriculture. He says there’s some incredible research going on at the Darr School of Agriculture. He shares another reason why he chose to contribute to the agriculture department…
"There is a family connection there. I'm always a little emotional when I talk about family, and so I apologize for that, but my grandfather, the original Clifton Smart, farmed for more than 60 years in Mississippi County in Arkansas. He's one of the people that I try to model my life after, and so, this is done partially in his honor, and I think he's looking down on us and appreciates that today."
The Smarts donated $10,000 of their housing allowance this year to MSU’s Tent Theatre. Various campus departments and organizations will benefit from that $10,000 each year in the future.
Smart was one of two candidates invited for on-campus interviews. According to an MSU news release, Dr.Randy Dunn, president of Murray State University in Kentucky, withdrew via e-mail on Monday.
Smart’s presidency begins immediately.