Springfield, MO

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Rebecca Green | SBJ

12 People You Need to Know in 2023: Zora Mulligan

Future of Higher Ed

Posted online

After working in one of the highest levels of state government, Zora Mulligan joined Missouri State University in a newly created position: the No. 2 administrative role to President Clif Smart.

Mulligan, executive vice president of the Springfield-based university starting July 5, 2022, worked for six years as commissioner of the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development before her latest career transition.

Now, she’s tasked with overseeing several administrative areas and leading efforts to redesign MSU to meet modern educational needs. And she’s a potential successor to Smart, who doesn’t have immediate plans to retire.

“We’re really focused on student success and student achievement,” Mulligan says, noting an initial goal is to “launch some initiatives to help position Missouri State University for long-term success.”

Already, Mulligan and John Jasinski, newly installed interim provost for MSU, have made changes.

In December 2022, MSU announced it would combine the College of Humanities and Public Affairs with the Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters to create the Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Humanities. The move to create the school’s third-largest college is slated to become official on July 1, 2023.

In a news release announcing the combination, Smart called out the two new leaders for their work.

“I value the new leadership, energy and ideas that Zora Mulligan and Dr. John Jasinski have brought to the university,” Smart says in the release. “This is an exciting time.”

As Mulligan continues to get her footing at MSU, she says she’ll lean on experience in the education sector to impact enrollment and the retention and recruitment of students and employees.

The area’s largest higher-education institution, MSU reported fall 2022 enrollment on the Springfield campus of 23,307 students.

“It’s been a really interesting transition. A lot of the issues are still very similar,” Mulligan says, pointing to the fact that MSU is a state college.

“How to be an effective leader is similar to whether you are working with a set of colleges and universities at the state or working within the university community to make sure that people have an opportunity to be heard and to participate in decision-making.”


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