When you talk with MU Provost Brian Foster about his job, this is how he describes it.
“I’m sort of at 40,000 foot level trying to put all the pieces together," he said. "The University of Missouri is a very complicated organization, and to have all the different pieces aligned-the research, the instruction, enrollment management, economic development, clinical work -you know, you see what I mean?”
Foster announced earlier today he will be retiring from the provost position January 1. After coming here from New Mexico in 2005, Foster stated he has enjoyed interacting with people all over campus.
“I love the huge sense of community here ... and it’s embedded in the community of Columbia. That’s a very big plus for the university. Another thing that I think is very, very wonderful is the interdisciplinary culture events. People from different parts of the university, different academic areas, come together to collaborate in a way that’s almost unheard of at other universities,” Foster said.
During his time as provost, Foster helped Mizzou Advantage take off as an economic stronghold in media of the future, sustainable energy, medicine and health, and food for the future. He has also reached out to establish relations with community colleges and other sectors of higher education.
Foster decided to step down because of his passion for research in anthropology and his wife’s health issues.
MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said Foster has been a major factor for the university’s recent growth.
“He’s been a voice on the national stage for Missouri and really strengthened the brand of Missouri in every way. And our growth in enrollment that has occurred, he’s been very much behind that and doing the kinds of things that have improved the Missouri brand across the nation,” Deaton said.
Deaton and Foster have developed a friendly relationship for the past eight years.
“Certainly I’m going to miss his deep scholarly commitment to what an institution of higher education is all about. His dedication to taking the university out to the people is very deep. So, he really sets a very strong identification with the land grant mission of our university. He wants to see education accessible to everybody in the state and we share that commitment,” Deaton said.
Foster will work on special projects with the chancellor and anthropological research with the university about 25 percent of the time. Deputy Provost Ken Dean will serve as the interim provost until someone else is named.