The University of Missouri has named Mun Y. Choi as the new president of its four-campus system. The selection of Choi, the 52-year-old provost of the University of Connecticut, comes a year after the resignation of the system’s previous president, Tim Wolfe, amid protests over racial issues at its Columbia campus.
Mike Middleton has been serving as interim president.
Choi, who was born in South Korea and came to the United States with his family as a child, told the Associated Press that he has read a list of demands from Concerned Student 1950, a group of students who led protests at the Columbia campus, and will “listen and learn” about their concerns.
“The voices of faculty, students and staff ― the true heart and soul of the institution ― matter greatly to me,” Choi said. “I will be meeting but, more importantly, listening to their perspective, their history and the programs that mean a great deal to them.”
Choi said the racial tensions at the Columbia campus last fall that garnered national attention and also led to the resignation of Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin are issues that are not unique to that school or to Missouri. He said an open dialogue with students, faculty and staff is needed to “avoid dramatic actions” and ensure university community members don’t feel “that their voices are not heard.”
Choi’s experience in research and academia marks a change in direction for the system as far as the backgrounds of his two immediate predecessors ― Wolfe and Gary Forsee, both business executives ― are concerned. Choi was dean of the School of Engineering at UConn prior to becoming provost in 2012 and had been associate dean of research at Drexel University.
According to UConn, Choi has a master’s degree and a doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University. He also has taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1994 to 2000.
Contributing: Associated Press