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Presidential Search2019-06-06T11:32:47-05:00

Matthew Wilson named Missouri Western’s fifth president

Matthew J. Wilson

President-Designate Matthew Wilson

March 13, 2019—By a 5-0 vote Tuesday, March 12, the Board of Governors at Missouri Western State University named Matthew Wilson, J.D., as Missouri Western’s fifth president, starting July 1, 2019. President-Designate Wilson will be introduced to the campus and community during a formal announcement and press conference at 3 p.m., Monday, March 18, in the Remington Atrium. The announcement is open to the public.

“With a long track record in higher education, including previous experience as a university president, Matt Wilson is prepared to serve Missouri Western well,” said David Liechti, chair of the Board of Governors. “As we got to know him through the interview process and in talking to people he has worked with, we appreciated his strong commitment to student success and his innovative and creative approach to problem-solving. Under his leadership, Missouri Western will continue to be a crucial part of the economic and cultural vitality of our region.”

“I am honored that the Governors have put their faith in me and incredibly excited to be joining the Missouri Western family,” President-Designate Wilson said. “I look forward to serving and working closely with outstanding MWSU faculty, students, staff and alumni as well as members of the St. Joseph community. Building on the solid foundation established by Dr. Vartabedian and others, Noriko and I are committed to transforming the lives of students, actively engaging with the community and elevating Missouri Western to even greater heights.”

Wilson is currently a professor of law at the University of Akron School of Law after serving as president of the University of Akron from 2016 to 2018. While president, he helped lead the university to a remarkable two-year budgetary turnaround, eliminating a projected $30 million deficit in 2016-2017 and adding $12 million to reserves. Wilson also participated in fundraising efforts that saw a substantial increase in donations including a $20 million Making a Difference Moving Forward student scholarship campaign and the largest single gift in university history. He also oversaw innovative approaches to student recruitment, retention and internationalization, including:

  • the Akron Guarantee Scholarship, which provides students with automatic yearly scholarship upgrades as long as they maintain good academic standing;
  • Five-Star Fridays, which concentrates class time Monday through Thursday so that Fridays could be dedicated to practical learning, skills development, career preparation and student success; and
  • Esports program that involves more than 1,000 students engaged in competitive video gaming varsity teams, club programs, related academic programs and career pathways.

Prior to serving as president, Wilson was dean of the University of Akron School of Law, where he oversaw a successful $21 million debt-free renovation and fundraising campaign for the law school facilities and helped achieve a 40 percent increase in new student enrollment over two years. He also served as associate dean of the University of Wyoming College of Law and senior associate dean and general counsel of Temple University Japan. He taught a wide variety of law courses at all three schools. He also served as a visiting professor at three universities in Asia and lectured extensively across the country and world.

Before beginning his higher education career, Wilson was a lawyer for Akerman Senterfitt P.A. in Orlando, Florida and general counsel for Telecommunications Network, Inc., in Tampa, Florida.

Wilson is a member of the Florida State Bar Association, Law & Society Association, Asian Law & Society Association, Australian Network for Japanese Law and NCAA esports working group.

Wilson received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies with a Japanese minor from the University of Utah. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Temple University Beasley School of Law. He and his wife, Noriko, have four children and three grandchildren.

President-Designate Wilson will succeed Dr. Robert Vartabedian, who will retire July 1 after 11 years as Missouri Western’s president.

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Search Advisory Committee

The Missouri Western State University Board of Governors has appointed 23 individuals to the search advisory committee for MWSU’s 5th president.

David Liechti, chair of the Board of Governors, will chair the search advisory committee. Jeanne Daffron, retired Provost, will serve as executive liaison to the search committee and Kim Sigrist, Secretary to the Board of Governors will provide administrative assistance. Other members representing faculty, students, staff, alumni, donors and the community include

  • Debbie Smith, Board of Governors
  • Al Purcell, Board of Governors
  • Paul Granberry, Student, Board of Governors
  • Dr. Jennifer Hegeman, Professor and Chair, Department of Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics
  • Dr. Mike Cadden, Professor, Department of English and Modern Languages
  • Dr. Mark Mills, Associate Professor, Department of Biology
  • Dr. Dan Shepherd, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Education
  • Austen Hall, Student Government Association President
  • Josh Looney, Director of Athletics
  • Carey McMillian, Associate Vice-President for Financial Planning and Administration
  • Latoya Muhammad, Center for Multicultural Education Director
  • Dr. Bob Willenbrink, Dean, School of Fine Arts
  • Fred Nesslage, Manager of ITS/Networks and PC Support and President of Staff Association
  • Kathy Kelly, Administrative Coordinator, Steven L. Craig School of Business and VP of Staff Association
  • Seth Wright, Attorney, Polsinelli PC
  • Pete Gray, CEO, Gray Manufacturing Company, Inc.
  • Drew Brown, U.S. Army Lt. Col., Retired
  • Todd Meierhoffer, President, Meierhoffer Funeral Home & Crematory/ St Joseph Memorial Park Cemetery
  • Bob Wollenman, co-owner and operator of Deluxe Truck Stop
  • Kylee Strough, President, United Way of Greater St. Joseph
  • Charlie Shields, President and Chief Executive Officer, Truman Medical Centers
  • Julee Thompson, Chief Nurse Executive at Mosaic Life Care

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the search committee chair will provide regular updates to the Missouri Western community at critical points of the search. Please check this website periodically to view those updates.

The search committee chair is the sole official spokesperson for the search committee. The chair will provide regular updates to the MWSU community, and will address any questions or concerns from members of the community through the duration of the search process.

The Search Committee is tasked with overseeing the process of the search and bringing the best candidates to the Board of Governors for consideration. They work with the search consultants to develop the presidential profile, review candidates and complete initial interviews with semi-finalists.

As per the confidentiality agreement and charge to the search committee, the search Committee chair is the only person authorized to speak on behalf of the search committee and the search process. Please contact the search committee chair or the search consultants if you have information that will be helpful to them.

The search committee is restricted in the information that they are able to share with the MWSU community or anyone else. The confidential statement that all members have signed requires that they not share any information discussed during search committee meetings and that they not share any information related to candidates, even after the search has closed.

We expect that many of our candidates hold key positions at other institutions, and will only submit an application if confidentiality is guaranteed. Members of the search committee have signed an agreement that secures confidentiality for all discussions and deliberations related to the presidential search.

Members of the MWSU community are encouraged to participate in pre-search activities that focus on seeking broad input to assist in the development of the presidential profile.

When finalist candidates are selected, members of the MWSU community will be strongly encouraged to meet with each of the candidates. In addition to a campus wide forum, candidates will meet with representatives from all key constituent groups during the time of their campus interview. An online feedback form will be distributed to all individuals who have met with the final candidates to ensure that feedback is gathered on each of the final candidates. Feedback from the community will be shared with the search committee as they deliberate on the strengths of and any concerns about each of the final candidates for consideration by the Board of Governors.

Yes, everyone who attends a campus forum or a meeting with the finalists will be sent an online feedback form. Completed forms will be reviewed by the search committee.

We anticipate that our new president will take office in summer 2019 following appointment by the Board of Governors.

The Board of Governors has full responsibility for appointing the new president. Following the on-campus interviews, they will meet to determine which of the finalists will be offered the position and complete any necessary negotiations.

Comments and Feedback

The Presidential Search Committee invites the campus and community to provide input into the search process for Missouri Western’s next President. Please submit a comment using the form below. Thank you!