Springfield, MO

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Dennis Lancaster has nearly three decades of experience with MSU-West Plains.
Provided by Missouri State University
Dennis Lancaster has nearly three decades of experience with MSU-West Plains.

MSU promotes from within for West Plains chancellor

Posted online

Missouri State University promoted a 30-year employee of its West Plains campus to chancellor.

Dennis Lancaster, who has served as interim chancellor since July 2020, is scheduled to become the permanent campus leader on Jan. 1, according to a news release.

“We had a number of strong candidates for the chancellor position,” said Jim Baker, chair of the search committee and vice president for research and economic development and international programs on the Springfield campus, in the release. “Dennis has an excellent record at MSU-West Plains. We believe he is the best candidate to lead the university.”

Lancaster, who has served as dean of academic affairs for seven years, was chosen from two finalists, MSU President Clif Smart said via email. An executive search firm was not used as part of the process.

As chancellor, he succeeds Shirley Lawler, who announced her exit in June 2020 due to health issues, according to the release.

“Dennis stepped in as interim chancellor in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Smart said in the release. “He successfully steered the university through the most challenging time most of us can remember. I have total confidence in Dennis’s ability to lead Missouri State-West Plains through the next years.”

Lancaster's appointment is subject to approval by the MSU Board of Governors during its Dec. 16 meeting. He's slated to earn a salary of $160,000 annually, along with benefits such as a housing allowance, a membership to the West Plains Country Club and tickets to all West Plains campus events, according to the release.


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