The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 30, 2012

No timetable for filling vacancies on MSSU Board of Governors

JOPLIN, Mo. — The governor’s office has said that the filling of several vacancies on the Board of Governors at Missouri Southern State University is under way, but no further details were offered late last week.

“We’re certainly aware of the vacancies,” Scott Holste, Gov. Jay Nixon’s press secretary, said by telephone Thursday. “We are working through the process to have those vacancies filled.”

Holste said he could not provide a timetable in which Nixon’s office expects to fill those seats.

The eight-person panel currently has five members: Sherry Buchanan, of Joplin, who was appointed in 2009; Richard Walter, of Joplin, appointed in 2007; Lynn Ewing III, of Nevada, appointed in 2010; James Fleischaker, of Joplin, appointed in 2011; and Rod Anderson, of Monett, who has continued to serve on the board since the expiration of his term in September 2009.

Board members are appointed to six-year terms. They are not paid but are reimbursed for expenses.

The three vacancies on the board come from seats previously held by Chuck Surface, of Joplin, who was appointed in 2011 and died in September; Nancy Perry, of Carthage, whose term expired in August; and David Jones, of Springfield, whose term expired in 2011.

Buchanan, chairwoman of the board, said Perry and Jones opted to resign from the positions upon the expiration of their terms. Under the board’s bylaws, Anderson can remain in his post on his expired term until the governor names a replacement for him, she said.

Anderson said last week that rather than resign, as Perry and Jones chose to do, he chose to remain in his seat until a successor is named.

“I’m considered to be serving at the wish of the governor right now until he replaces” the seat, he said. “Mine (the decision to stay in the position) is such that I felt I owed it to continue service.”

Appointments to the board must be made by the governor and approved by the state Senate, which will be in regular session from January until May.

According to the board’s bylaws, six of the eight board members must live in Jasper, Newton, McDonald, Barry, Barton, Dade or Lawrence counties, with no more than three appointed from any one county. Two are selected from other counties in the state.

Additionally, no more than four members may belong to the same political party. Of the five sitting members, four are Democrats, with Walter listed as an independent.

An eight-person board operating with five members, while functional, is not optimal, Buchanan said.

“The main consciousness is: The more heads you have to think about things and the more opinions that can be expressed, the more decisions that can be made,” she said.

There also are challenges associated with having numerous vacancies on the board. The board’s committees — budget/audit, academic affairs, personnel/compensation, executive — are generally made up of two board members in addition to the board chair. Buchanan said she would like to be able to spread the work among more than five people.

“Committee work gets a little interesting when you have a committee and it’s all the same people coming to the meetings,” she said.

Buchanan said the names of several candidates have been recommended to the governor’s office from local legislators and from individuals interested in serving on the board.

“We know there are applicants in line, and it’s just a matter of them being vetted and the appointment being made,” she said. “They (the governor and Senate) don’t make these appointments lightly, and they have hundreds and hundreds to make on boards and commissions across the state, so I know it’s a complicated process.”

Student member

DAVID SIGARS, an MSSU student from Neosho, is serving a two-year term as the nonvoting student representative to the university’s Board of Governors, according to the governor’s office.

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