“It’s a great day to be a bear.” That’s what Missouri State University’s next president said today.

The university’s Board of Governors has selected Richard “Biff” Williams as the school’s 12th president.

“The last six months as I’ve studied and learn more about Missouri State University, we really fell in love with the university. To me, it has it all – it has great academics, it has great research, it has great athletics, performing arts. It really values diversity and inclusion. I love that we meet students where they are,” said Williams.

He will take over on July 1.

“I’ve been in the Midwest for 16 of my 25 years and I’ve been able to watch Missouri State University from afar,” he said. “I just have a tremendous respect and pride and inspiration from the rich history of this institution and we’re excited to be part of that future.”

Williams has been president of Utah Tech University since 2014 – increasing enrollment more than 40% and adding more than 200 academic programs during his time there.

“Similarly at Missouri State University, it will be a collaborative effort. You’re doing great things now,” he said. “Last year, you had a great enrollment boost. We all know about the enrollment cliff. And so, reading your strategic enrollment plan is very impressive. You have a great group of individuals that oversee that. We will definitely continue to be aggressive in recruiting students.”

He also guided the university through a name rebranding and a move to Division I athletics.

“We’re confident Dr. Williams is the right person to lead MSU into the future,” said board Chair Lynn Parman. “He is very student focused. He also has proven success in strategic planning, community engagement, legislative advocacy and fundraising. Dr. Williams possesses the qualifications and experience necessary to ensure the university continues to thrive and build on its strong foundation.”

Previously, Williams served as provost and vice president for academic affairs and founding dean of the College of Nursing, Health and Human Services at Indiana State University. Prior to Indiana State, Williams served as an associate dean of the College of Education at the University of Northern Iowa, where he was a faculty member; executive associate director of the School of Health, Physical Education and Leisure Services; and athletic training division chair.

MSU launched a nationwide search for a new president last fall.

Williams will take the helm for the retiring Clif Smart.

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