The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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June 14, 2013

MSSU board tight-lipped about personnel vote

JOPLIN, Mo. — An attorney for the Board of Governors of Missouri Southern State University on Friday after a closed-door meeting said that the board had taken a vote on personnel matters, but would not give any more information on the subject of the vote.

Joplin attorney Ron Mitchell said after the board meeting, which lasted nearly two hours on the MSSU campus, said an announcement on the vote is expected to be released by Monday.

Under state open-meetings law, public governmental bodies such as the board have up to 72 hours to release votes taken during closed meetings relating to the hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting of specific employees. Any employee affected by the vote is entitled, under the law, to “prompt notice of such decision during the 72-hour period before any such decision is made available to the public.”

President Bruce Speck did not attend the meeting. The board has met numerous times in the past three months to work on his annual evaluation.

Speck has not been at his office for about two weeks. Sherry Buchanan, chairwoman of the board, on Friday declined to answer questions about Speck or his absence.

Speck was named president of the university in 2008. His contract was unanimously renewed by the board last June to extend through June 30, 2015, and his annual salary has remained unchanged at about $180,000.

His presidency has not been without controversy. Faculty complaints leveled against Speck in fall 2009 included assertions of breaches of shared governance, and the faculty later delivered a no-confidence vote against the president that was driven, in part, by accusations of poor communication and the withholding of information.

More recently, Speck was a proponent of an effort to remove the university’s international mission designation from state statute, a move that disgruntled faculty, staff and students who said they were caught by surprise by the proposal and were unhappy that there had been no public discussion of the issue beforehand. The proposal was halted by a local legislator who said he wanted to give MSSU officials more time to research potential financial consequences of eliminating the mission from statute.

Buchanan has been among those who have said the issue should have been better communicated to the campus.

Upcoming

The Board of Governors will convene at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 20, in the boardroom of Billingsly Student Center for its monthly meeting.

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