SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri State University President Clif Smart has announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year. Smart has been with Missouri State since June of 2011, serving as the 11th president.
“In a lot of ways I’m sorry to see it go, but you also don’t want to stay too long and leave at a time when everybody’s happy for you to leave,” Smart said.
In a video released first to students, Smart said, “Being the President of Missouri State University has been the biggest honor of my life. I love doing this job and I love this University and together we have made so much progress in over the last twelve-plus years.”
Missouri State has grown under the leadership of Smart. The school has set new records in numbers of graduates, graduate employment rates and overall enrollment, even through the Covid crisis. During his tenure, the school has raised over $440 million, renovated dozens of buildings and made the NCAA playoffs for the first time in 30 years.
“We’ve accomplished a lot of the things I set out to accomplish,” Smart said. “And by the end of this academic year, we will have completed the academic realignment, which is a big project. And so with that done, it seemed to me to make sense that it was a good time to move on.”
As the longest-standing president in MSU’s history, Smart has been involved with students in many ways, including marching with students during a Black Lives Matter event.
“I think being president is more than just coming to events to show for pictures, but also being able to talk to the students and to learn more about them and just really understanding what would make Missouri State a more suitable place for any student,” said Tylea Wilson, a graduate assistant at MSU.
Smart has lived in Springfield for more than two decades. Before his presidency, Smart served on MSU’s general counsel. Before taking over at the university, he had a private legal practice in Springfield.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished together but, it’s time to pass the baton to build on the good work we’ve done,” says Smart.
The board of governors will be appointing a search committee this month. They will begin the process of selecting the 12th president of Missouri State University.