WMU News

President Floyd tapped to head University of Missouri system

Nov. 13, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Dr. Elson S. Floyd, the sixth president of Western Michigan University, is leaving WMU to take the reins of the University of Missouri system.

Floyd, who has been the WMU leader since August 1998, was tapped by the board of curators of the four-campus Missouri system to succeed Dr. Manuel T. Pacheco, who is retiring from the post of UM president at the end of this year. Floyd is expected to take office in Missouri on Jan. 6. Word of Floyd's decision to accept the Missouri offer came at the end of more than a week of speculation triggered by press reports of his candidacy for the position.

"It is with mixed and heartfelt emotions that today I advised the Board of Trustees that I have accepted the position of president of the University of Missouri," Floyd wrote in a message to the campus community. "While I am excited about the challenges that lie ahead, I am also saddened to be leaving the institution that gave me the opportunity to realize my dream of being a university president. For this, Western Michigan University, its trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends will always hold a special place in my heart."

The University of Missouri has nearly 60,000 students on four main campuses--in Columbia, St. Louis, Kansas City and Rolla. Each campus is headed by a chancellor who reports to the system president. The system includes law, medical and dental schools and nationally recognized programs in such fields as life sciences, engineering, geology and journalism. Of the student body, 76 percent are pursuing bachelor's degrees, while 24 percent are enrolled in graduate programs.

"Dr. Floyd is a strong leader who inspires the people around him," UM board President John Mathes said. "The selection committee found that he is highly regarded by all who come in contact with him, from faculty, staff and students to officials at the highest levels of state government and higher education."

WMU Board of Trustees Chairperson Richard Y. St. John praised Floyd's work at WMU and said he and his fellow trustees were disappointed by the decision but wished the president success at his new post.

"The University of Missouri is getting a wonderful president," St. John said. "His years at WMU have been a time of tremendous progress for this institution, and he served with the kind of energy and vision that will be sorely missed."

During his tenure at WMU, Floyd is credited with accomplishing a variety of goals, including those laid out by the Board of Trustees when he was hired.

He oversaw WMU's elevation to the "doctoral/research universities-extensive" category in the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's classification system and forged the University's reputation as a "student-centered research university."

His pursuit of private gifts to the University resulted in three consecutive record gifts years and the near-completion of a $125 million capital campaign, which is slated to run through 2003.

He parlayed funding for a new engineering building into an addition to the University's Kalamazoo campus that includes not only the new academic facility, but also the Business Technology and Research Park for the private sector that is being hailed as a model of public/private partnership.

He secured legislative approval for a new $48 million home for WMU's College of Health and Human Services.

His personal attention to faculty/staff and town/gown relations has resulted in a period marked by collaborative efforts both within and between the two segments of the community.

He fulfilled a 2001 vow to lead WMU to becoming one of the first major research universities in the nation to offer a totally wireless campus computing environment.

WMU's Board of Trustees is expected to announce soon how it will fill the vacancy at the University that will be left by Floyd's departure.

Floyd's message to the University community, which was sent as he headed to Missouri for a whirlwind fly-around to visit all four of Missouri's campuses, concluded with a note of thanks for the support he has received during his tenure.

"Thank you for your unwavering support of the past four and a half years and for your efforts to keep me here in Kalamazoo," he wrote. "However, I came to Western Michigan University because of the opportunities and challenges that it offered, and today, I leave for the University of Missouri for those same reasons."

Media contact: Matt Kurz, 269 387-8400, matt.kurz@wmich.edu

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