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Search for MSU President Narrowed Down to Two Candidates: Clif Smart and Murray State President

The Missouri State University Board of Governors announced Monday (today) that two finalists have been chosen in the search for the school’s next president. They are: Dr. Randy J. Dunn, president of Murray State University in Kentucky and Clifton M. Smart III, who's the interim president of MSU. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has more.


Paul Kincaid, chief of staff for the university, says both candidates are scheduled for on-campus interviews next month.

“The goal of the search committee was to cast a wide net, advertise widely, have a national search and get a strong, diverse group of candidates, which they did. And then they wanted to take a look at six to eight [candidates] in more detail, and do some background, and have some pulmonary interviews with that group, which they did. The goal was to come up with two to four that we would bring to campus for campus interviews, and they’ve recommended two candidates, who throughout the process, always rose above the others.”

Kincaid says the board specifically looked at the candidates’ background experience in choosing the two finalists.

Dunn’s on-campus interview is scheduled for Oct. 7-9, which will include a full set of meetings, including an open forum from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Plaster Student Union on the MSU campus.

Smart’s on-campus interview will be Oct. 9-11. His open forum is scheduled for Oct. 10 from 3:30-4:30 p.m., also in the PSU.

Smart is the current interim president at MSU. He accepted that position in June of last year when the previous president, Dr. James Cofer, stepped down after about a year on the job. Before this post, Smart provided legal counsel to the university. Although he has a strong legal background, Smart differs from past presidents of the university in that his main field of study is not academics.

However, Kincaid said Smart is a top candidate because the board is looking, first and foremost, for a good leader who can operate the university.

“The requirement was to have a terminal degree, and he has a jurist doctorate, so he does have a doctorate degree, it’s just in law. What the board is really looking for is someone who can lead the university. So you have to understand academic setting, you have to appreciate it, you have to be able to work within it, but it doesn’t absolutely require that you come out of an academic background.”

He notes that Smart's experience in leading MSU over the past year is also of particular value.

Dunn has been Murray State University’s acting president since May 2006. He holds a doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Illinois. According to the Murray State website, Dunn served as the superintendent for the Illinois State Board of Education.

Kincaid says people are welcome to submit their feedback on each candidate after the on-campus interviews in a few weeks.

 “I hope and think that everybody will participate in the interviews when the people come to campus. We’ll have sessions for students and staff and faculty and the community and open forums as well. We’re hopeful people will participate in the process and then submit their online feedback so we can consider that in the final.”

The board plans to name the new president by Nov. 1.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.


And to keep up with the presidential search, you can go to www.missouristate.edu/presidentialsearch