Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:50 p.m. to include comments from incoming chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal and MU spokesman Christian Basi.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s next chancellor, C. Mauli Agrawal, takes over at a time when higher education funding in the state is under fire and inherits the imperiled promise of a downtown location for the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.
UM-System President Mun Choi announced Agrawal’s appointment to faculty and staff in an email Tuesday.
Agrawal, currently interim provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of Texas at San Antonio, will be in Kansas City at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 9 for a meet-and-greet.
“Dr. Agrawal noted his experience with a multi-campus institution and understanding of the importance of working with system and board leadership to implement strategies to reach common goals,” Choi wrote in an email. “Through engagement efforts with all UMKC constituents, he plans to energize all partners in service to the university’s core mission.”
Meanwhile, the state’s public colleges and universities are bracing for big cuts. Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposed budget calls for a reduction of $68 million in higher education funding for fiscal year 2019.
Agrawal will also have to figure out next steps for the proposed downtown arts campus after the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation revoked its $20 million pledge last month. That blow followed Greitens’ decision over the summer to nix matching state funds for the project. Interim Chancellor Barbara Bichelmeyer has said UMKC will forge ahead with the downtown conservatory project anyway.
MU spokesman Christian Basi says Choi is confident Agrawal can be an effective advocate for UMKC.
"Dr. Agrawal understands the interconnectedness that's necessary for a region to develop and sustain solid economic development," Basi told KCUR. "UMKC is an important part of that for the Kansas City region."
Agrawal’s USTA bio touts his efforts to recruit students and faculty as the Dean for the College of Engineering, a role he held for eight years prior to taking over as the vice president of academic affairs. During that time, research funding rose 400 percent, and Agrawal secured a $50 million grant from CPS Energy to launch the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute.
“UMKC has all the elements necessary to make a great university," Agrawal said in a statement. "With strengths in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, business, engineering, arts and theater, the university is an exceptional anchor for economic development in the Kansas City region."
Agrawal will assume UMKC's top job on June 20. Bichelmeyer will return to her former role as provost, according to Choi’s email.
KCUR is licensed to the University of Missouri Board of Curators and is an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.