KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A University of Connecticut provost is about to be named president of the University of Missouri, nearly a year after the Columbia campus was roiled by protests over administrators' handling of racial and other issues on the Columbia campus, a person familiar with the search told The Associated Press on Monday.
The person said the university system's governor board is expected to finalize the appointment of Mun Y. Choi. The person insisted on anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly ahead of an announcement scheduled for Wednesday in Jefferson City.
The governing Board of Curators met in closed session Monday morning.
Choi, 52, has been provost at the University of Connecticut since 2012. He would replace Tim Wolfe, who resigned in November 2015 along with Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, in response to the protests, which included a hunger strike by one student and the football team threatening not to play a game if the administration did not respond to students' complaints.
Former Deputy Chancellor Mike Middleton has been interim president since then.
The university also was strongly criticized by state lawmakers, who threatened funding cuts and closer scrutiny of the system's budget. Others were angry after assistant professor Melissa Click was not immediately fired for confronting a student photographer and videographer during the protests. After months of contention, Click was dismissed from the university in February.
State Rep. Caleb Rowden, a Republican from Columbia, said having "somebody consistent there at the top helm, that will be able to move forward with some stability and certainty, I think that was really important." Rowden praised the efforts of Middleton and interim chancellor Hank Foley to speak with key lawmakers at the Capitol last legislative session and said he hopes the next president continues that effort.
"Most of these issues, time and stability are about the only things that can heal them," Rowden said. "There's not a lot of shortcuts here, as far as some of the tension. You've just got to engage."
Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, of University City, said the next president should be "inclusive of different cultures and ways of thinking." She recommended he read through a list of demands from Concerned Student 1950, the group that led the protests last year, to start a good relationship with students.
Scott Holste, a spokesman for Gov. Jay Nixon, who appointed the Board of Curators, declined to comment Monday about the appointment.
Choi joined the University of Connecticut in 2008 as dean of engineering and professor of mechanical engineering. Before that, he was department head of mechanical engineering and associate dean for research at Drexel University. From 1994 to 2000, he was a faculty member in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Illinois. He earned his master's and doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University.
Professor Ben Trachtenberg, president of the University of Missouri faculty council, said he was pleased that Choi has an academic background. Wolfe came to the university from a software company. His predecessor, Gary Forsee, was CEO of Sprint Corp.
"That is something the faculty has said repeatedly: that it was important for the next president to have a deep knowledge of how a university works," Trachtenberg said. "Obviously, someone who has bene a provost and has done other academic work has gained an affinity for the academic mission. I'm looking forward to meeting him."
Associated Press reporter Summer Ballentine in Jefferson City contributed to this report.