The University of Missouri’s next system president says he intends to build a better relationship between the school and state legislators. Dr. Mun Choi has been named the system’s next top leader.

Dr. Mun Choi (Photo courtesy of Peter Morenus/UConn)

Dr. Mun Choi (Photo courtesy of Peter Morenus/UConn)

“Elected officials are tremendous stewards of public resources and they try to do the best for the citizens of the state. I’m confident that through my interaction, I can share with the legislators in Missouri my commitment to see positive outcomes,” says Choi.

Some state legislators proposed deep budget cuts this year to the university, in response to the way school leaders handled racial protests last fall on the Columbia campus. Demonstrators called for the resignation of then-president Tim Wolfe. Mike Middleton has served as the interim president since Wolfe’s exit.

“The first thing I have to do is to listen to their point of view and also how to find out how we come to common grounds when it comes to higher education,” says Choi. “My job as a system president is to advocate for resources that are needed to continue the rise of the UM system to become one of the top research institutions in the country.”

Choi says he has read demands made by a group of students, Concerned Student 1950, who led last fall’s campus protests at Mizzou.

“It’s also very important for all of us to open that line of dialogue with students, with faculty and with staff members, so that we can avoid dramatic action so that they don’t feel, they meaning any group of students or faculty members, that their voices are not heard,” says Choi.

Several curators were at a press conference Wednesday to announce Choi as the system’s next president, including chair Pam Henrickson, David Steelman and Jon Sundvold. State Reps. David Wood (R-Versailles) and Travis Fitzwater (R-Holts Summit) were also there.

Choi will be the university system’s 24th president and the system’s first president of Asian descent. He was one of five finalists for the top post.

Choi is the provost and vice president at the University of Connecticut. He starts at the system in Columbia on March 1.