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MU Provost to Retire in January

September 18th, 2013

Story Contacts: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,
Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— Today, University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton announced that Brian Foster, MU provost and the catalyst behind Mizzou Advantage, will retire effective Jan. 1, 2014.

“We are extremely grateful for Brian Foster’s leadership that has significantly advanced the worldwide academic reputation of the University of Missouri,” MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said. “His national perspective and knowledge of higher education have proven invaluable to our campus. His commitment to quality has been apparent in moving MU forward in many areas including economic development, MU’s research profile, retaining and hiring the best deans and faculty, increasing our enrollment, and assuring the best possible education for all MU students.”

At MU, Foster will be remembered for initiating and providing leadership to Mizzou Advantage, which has helped position the university strongly in the broader world of higher education, in economic development and as a major contributor in four content areas: Food for the Future, Sustainable Energy, Media of the Future and One Health/One Medicine.

Since the creation of Mizzou Advantage in 2010, funding has been awarded for nearly 100 seed and network projects involving approximately 400 faculty. Some recent projects include: creating biomedical engineering solutions for medical patients, discussing solutions to providing healthy and affordable food, studying childhood obesity, monitoring livestock health, exploring new technology available to journalists, and engaging in best practices for sustainability.

“I absolutely love this university,” Foster said. “While I’m stepping away from the Provost’s office, I hope to stay connected and to continue to make contributions that would be useful to the University of Missouri.”

Foster’s commitment to economic development contributed significantly to the successful recruitment of some firms to Columbia, Deaton said, and has helped develop important relationships throughout the state. For example, an increased presence in Kansas City has produced important research relationships with businesses and other organizations.

Foster, a first-generation college student, has been an advocate for expanding the educational experiences of the university in an effort to reach as many students as possible. Under his leadership, MU has invested in many new undergraduate online courses as well as entire online programs that are making it possible to earn a bachelor’s degree from a distance with few or no transfer credits. Foster also has worked to increase and improve MU’s relationships with community colleges in Missouri, making it easier for students to transfer and complete 4-year degree programs.

“Higher education opened a rich and rewarding life that I could not have imagined,” Foster said. “I’ve been fortunate to serve in faculty and/or administrative positions for more than 40 years.”

He received his bachelor’s degree in history from Northern Illinois University in 1967 and his master’s and doctorate degrees in anthropology from the University of Michigan in 1968 and 1972 respectively.

Foster was a member of the anthropology faculty at the State University of New York – Binghamton, graduate dean at Arizona State University, dean of arts and sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico. He was appointed provost at MU in August 2005.

Currently, Foster is a member of the American Anthropological Association, the Association for Asian Studies, the Society for Applied Anthropology, and other professional organizations. Foster also has been active in numerous national higher education organizations including serving on the TOEFL (the Test Of English as a Foreign Language) Policy Council, the Council of Graduate Schools, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the executive committees of the Council for Research Policy and Graduate Education.

He has served as chair of the Graduate Records Examination Board (GRE), the boards of the Western Association of Graduate Schools, and the Council on Academic Affairs. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the School for Advanced Research, a ‘think tank” located in Santa Fe, N.M., which has a history of more than 100 years of anthropology-based research on the Southwest, Native Peoples and Native Arts.

Chancellor Deaton announced that Ken Dean, deputy provost and a member of the law faculty, has been designated to serve as interim provost until a new provost is named.

“Ken’s experience will enable him to provide the continuity of academic and administrative leadership needed during this period of transition,” Deaton said.

“I am honored to step into this role and I will make every effort in the critical months ahead to maintain and strengthen the academic momentum of the campus,” Dean said. “I also think it important to note that I will not be a candidate for the permanent position of provost.”