University of Missouri President Elson Floyd continues to impress. Floyd, who took over as president of the University system in January, has consistently made the bold decisions needed to guide the university into the future. He has created an environment for change that has impressed virtually everyone in the academic community. And now, Floyd is once again ahead of the times.
Chancellor of the Missouri-Columbia campus Richard Wallace announced Thursday he will step down from his post in one year. And Floyd used the occasion to propose a merger between his office and the post of chancellor. What that means in practical terms is a tremendous financial savings for the university. It would also streamline the administration of the university system and help to consolidate functions that have grown in cost through the years.
In tight economic times (or even when times are not in financial crisis), eliminating duplication of services is a smart move. Thus far, Floyd has made all of the smart moves. His plan - already approved by the Board of Curators - would take a giant leap toward downsizing the bureaucracy in the university system. And it makes logical sense to consolidate in the hands of one strong administration. Elson Floyd is just that.
I said in an editorial not too long ago that the state government should look at the University of Missouri for ways to address a lagging financial picture. A university - like state government - is a monster of bureaucracy. But it's not impossible to conquer and Elson Floyd is proving that on a daily basis. The highly visible new president is a breath of fresh air in more ways than one.
The consolidation of the chancellor's post into the office of the president will undoubtedly save money. Floyd wants to put that money back into the "core academic mission" of the university. What a refreshing and honest approach to facing a financial crisis without jeopardizing the mission of the university.
State government, I repeat, should look closely toward the changes at the University of Missouri. Eliminate duplication, combine functions when possible and remember why you are there in the first place. Elson Floyd understands that. Bob Holden could follow his lead.