The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 18, 2013

MSSU board to complete terms of president’s departure

By Emily Younker

LAMAR, Mo. — The Board of Governors of Missouri Southern State University will meet Wednesday to complete the terms of the agreement that terminated President Bruce Speck’s contract, board Chairwoman Sherry Buchanan said.

The meeting will be closed, in accordance with state law, for reasons of “hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting of particular employees by a public governmental body when personal information about the employee is discussed or recorded.”

The board announced Monday that it had unanimously voted to terminate Speck’s contract as president, saying it had been approved “by mutual agreement” of Speck and the panel.

Speck, who was named president in 2008, had two years left on his contract, and his annual salary had remained unchanged at about $180,000.

Buchanan said the terms of the agreement will become public after they have been approved by the board, which could take place at Wednesday’s meeting.

“We’re in the process of getting that so that it can be released,” she said.

The Globe also has filed an open-records request with the university seeking documents related to the terms of Speck’s departure.

Buchanan declined Tuesday to discuss the reasons for the termination of Speck’s contract, saying that it was a personnel matter.

An interim president for the university has not yet been named. Finding a permanent president will come sometime afterward, Buchanan said.

“Once that (an interim president) is in place, then we’ll have discussions about what kind of search process we want to go through and how we want to conduct that, and kind of put together a timetable on some of those things,” she said. “That’s not something we can do just instantaneously.”

She said the board has not yet discussed the possibility of hiring a national consultant to aid with the search, although she said that is an option.

Buchanan said the search will be board-driven, as it is the board’s legal responsibility to hire a president.

“But we will make it a full-blown shared governance process also,” she said. “That’s why it’s something that can’t be done overnight — because it’s going to involve campuswide participation.”

The board itself also will undergo some changes on Thursday, when it convenes for its regular monthly meeting. Board members typically elect their officers at the June meeting, and Buchanan said she doesn’t plan to seek re-election as chairwoman.

“Thursday will be my last meeting as chair,” she said. “I’ve served my two years. That’s sort of our unofficial time (limit), so we will have an election.”

In addition to Buchanan, the board’s other current officer is Richard Walter, who serves as vice chairman.

Meeting details

THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS will meet behind closed doors at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the law offices of Blanchard, Robertson, Mitchell and Carter, 320 W. Fourth St., and again at 4 p.m. Thursday in the boardroom of Billingsly Student Center on the MSSU campus.