Students and faculty at Mizzou are weighing in on the new MU chancellor, cautiously expressing their optimism now that the position is finally filled.
Dr. Alexander Cartwright was formally announced last week as the next MU chancellor. He comes from the State University System of New York. He will officially start his job Aug. 1.
“We’ve had a lot of time that’s gone by without a chancellor so it’s good to have stability,” Nathan Willet, Missouri Students Association president and incoming senior at Mizzou, told ABC 17 News.
Cartwright is the first person to permanently fill the position since former chancellor Bowen Loftin resigned in 2015 amid protests on campus. Cartwright comes to Columbia at a challenging time, as unprecedented budget cuts, decreased enrollment and low morale continue to plague the university’s flagship campus.
“We’ve made a lot of choices to not make choices at this university for a long time. Difficult decisions have been put off. And he can’t just come in and make those decisions but he can come in and, like Mun Choi, say ‘The days of not making these decisions are over. Let’s get together. Let’s be smart. Let’s talk to each other and let’s make these choices even though they are going to be hard,” professor Ben Trachtenberg told ABC 17 News.
Faculty and students are encouraged by Cartwright’s diverse background. A native of the Bahamas, Cartwright is familiar with both racial and educational diversity.
“I think, for him, diversity is not something that you’re supposed to do because someone told you to, but it’s something that comes out of his own real life. He talked about how he was the one person at his school who was white in the entire school. So that’s a different view of diversity than most white people that I know have experienced,” Trachtenberg said. “Separate from race, he can talk about going to community college after getting a GED and then working his way up to a Ph.D. I think the GED to Ph.D. story really talks a lot about what universities like ours are supposed be for.”
Cartwright previously served as provost and executive vice chancellor at the State University of New York (SUNY), which is no stranger to dealing with a challenging budget.
“While our relationship at Mizzou and UM with the Legislature is complicated, it’s not uncomplicated in New York at all,” Trachtenberg said.
During last week’s chancellor announcement, Cartwright told the crowd he’s more than up for the challenge.
“As a public land-grant institution, Mizzou has a huge responsibility to deliver to the state of Missouri and its citizens. I am ready to uphold that very important task,” Cartwright said.