The first of two public focus groups designed to start the process of selecting the next president of Missouri Southern State University was held on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Members of the campus and local community gathered for the event, which was conducted via small-group discussions on three topics.

Members of the focus groups were asked to weigh in on three questions to help guide the search committee.

Members of the focus groups were asked to weigh in on three questions to help guide the search committee.

The discussion was led by Richard Walter, chairman of the Board of Governors, and Dr. Sherry Buchanan, a member of the board. The two serve as co-chairs of the presidential search committee, which will help guide the search process.

“We’re really happy to have you here so we can get your input and good ideas and share them with the members of the search committee,” said Walter.

Buchanan said the focus groups are “not end-all, be-all meetings,” but rather the start of the process of allowing “everyone with a vested interest” to be a part of the search.

Those in attendance for the event were asked to consider three questions.

The first asked what traits, skills and experience should Missouri Southern look for in a presidential candidate.

Among the suggestions made during the forum were: Someone who is not afraid of fundraising; and someone who is a good speaker with a good sense of humor. Someone who is willing to listen and solicit feedback when appropriate. A presidential candidate with an understanding of the institution’s mission and the ability to build on its strengths; and with the ability to build and sustain relationships both on and off campus.

The second question asked what the vision for the university should be, and what leadership qualities are needed to help achieve that vision.

The focus groups were asked to consider leadership qualities in a presidential candidate as well as what the vision for MSSU should be.

The focus groups were asked to consider leadership qualities in a presidential candidate as well as what the vision for MSSU should be.

Suggestions included reinvigorating Missouri Southern’s international mission, making an emphasis to keep top students and talent in the area, academic expansion and leading a long-range fundraising campaign.

Finally, the groups were asked to offer suggestions for the search committee.

A second public focus group was to be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, in the ballroom at Billingsly Student Center.

Buchanan said that video and transcripts from the forums as well as other information about the process will be posted at mssu.edu/presidential-search.

The search committee will be charged during the January Board of Governors meeting. The final selection of the university president will rest with the board, which will consider all of the input received during the search process.