MU Chancellor Deaton, Provost Foster reflect on long careers

Oct 30, 2013

Chancellor Brady Deaton will depart November 15th. Provost Brian Foster will leave at the end of this year
Credit University of Missouri System / Flickr

In a wide-ranging interview this morning for KBIA's Intersection, retiring University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton and Provost Brian Foster reflected on their tenures at the university, noting its continued growth in spite of the economic slowdown and successful recruitment of out-of-state students.

The timing of their retirements has raised some eyebrows, however: Deaton is departing in November 15th, about four months after announcing his intentions this summer. Foster will retire at the end of the year after, just three months after his announcement in September. Both laughed off the suggestion that they were asked to resign. They each said they felt the time was right to step away from their positions to seek new challenges and to spend time with their families.

"I wanted to focus on fewer items, and do less of the day-to-day administrative work," Deaton said. "It came very naturally at a point where I just wanted to do things a bit differently." 

After leaving their roles, Deaton plans to spearhead a new initiative at MU focused on food security and nutrition, while also continuing in his role as the chair of the federal Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, or BIFAD. Foster wants to do research looking into higher education from an anthropological perspective.

Another topic of discussion was the rise of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, that some universities are using to teach larger groups of students. Both Deaton and Foster suggested that MOOCs were a complement, rather than a threat, to the traditional lecture-based system in place.

"We're going to see the ways we evaluate learning change," Foster said. "I think the technologies behind the MOOCs are going to be powerful, but I think the current way they're delivered and certified is going to change."

"It's a very important source of additional information that can be channeled into the learning process," Deaton added.

Foster said that irrespective of MOOCs, the way universities deliver educational content to students will have to change in the future, but that hands-on learning, like at the Missouri School of Journalism, was still paramount to one's education.

Watch the entire interview below. KBIA will broadcast a condensed version tonight at 6:30 p.m.