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MSU President James Cofer announced his resignation June 27.
MSU President James Cofer announced his resignation June 27.

Missouri State President Cofer resigns

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Missouri State University President James Cofer has announced his resignation from the school's top post, effective Aug. 1. Cofer, who has held the position for a year, will transition to the university's College of Business Administration as a tenured professor after he takes a year off.

"At this particular time, I believe that the position necessary to best serve Missouri State is one closely tied to the classroom and working with students much more directly than in the past. In that light, the Board of Governors has agreed for me to transition back to the classroom as provided in my contract," Cofer said in a news release. "My plan is to take next year and work with my colleagues across the country and here at MSU to sharpen up my teaching and research skills so that I can return to the classroom in the fall of 2012."

Cofer - who was named MSU president May 14, 2010, and took the post on Aug. 1 - submitted his resignation yesterday to the MSU Board of Governors.

“We knew from the time he interviewed just how much Dr. Cofer enjoyed working with students, so we understand his desire to return to the faculty," MSU Board of Governors Chairwoman Elizabeth Bradbury said in the release. "We anticipate that he will be outstanding in his new faculty role, and our students will benefit greatly from his contributions."

When Cofer returns to MSU, he will be paid a $165,000 salary, which equates to 60 percent of his current salary of $275,000. The agreement also calls for Cofer to receive a one-time payment of deferred income of $50,000, and he will continue to receive his annual $45,000 housing allowance for one year. He will lose all other additional benefits included in his contract, the release said.

Clif Smart, MSU general counsel since December 2007, stepped in today as interim president, according to a separate news release.

“I did not seek this position, but I accept it with deep humility and great determination” said Smart, who worked at Springfield-based The Strong Law Firm PC for 15 years before joining MSU, in the release. “I believe in this university, its people, its programs and its potential."

As his first act as interim president, Smart named Frank Einhellig interim provost. Einhellig, who has been the dean of the Missouri State University Graduate College since 1992, is set to become the associate vice president for research at the university, effective July 1.

MSU Provost Belinda McCarthy will resign from her post Aug. 1, in part due to the reassignment of Einhellig, according to Springfield Business Journal archives.

The details of Einhellig's appointment as interim provost will be ironed out during the next seven to 10 days and will then be presented to the board, the release said.

As part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Smart and the MSU Board of Governors, Smart will be subject to the following conditions:
  • he will serve in the interim indefinitely, but he or the school could end the appointment with 30 days notice;
  • he will receive a $180,000 salary along with Tower Club and Hickory Hills Country Club memberships, but he will not receive a housing allowance;
  • he declined the courtesy car that comes with the position and will forfeit his $6,000 car allowance;
  • he will not ask for funds to pay for his wife to travel with him; and
  • he will decline free meals unless they are part of an MSU or MSU Foundation event.
"I am confident that the university will accomplish much under Mr. Smart’s leadership," Bradbury said in the release. "While the board sees this position as ‘interim,’ it does not see it as a ‘caretaker.’"

The MSU Board of Governors will set a timetable for the search of a permanent president after the full board is in place, as six of its nine members' terms are set to expire this year, according to the release.[[In-content Ad]]

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