Buffkin / Baker Seeks General Counsel for University of Missouri System  

January 12, 2022 – Executive search firm Buffkin / Baker has been chosen to recruit the next general counsel for the University of Missouri (MU) in Columbia. Leading the assignment is Martin M. Baker, managing partner. Last month general counsel Steve Owens announced his plans to step down in March. Board curator chair Darryl Chatman appointed a search committee, which will be led by curator Robin Wenneker.

The general counsel reports directly to the board and is charged with providing legal advice and service to the board and the university. “This a critical position for the university and one that requires an extensive, thorough search,” said Mr. Chatman. “I’m pleased that curator Wenneker has agreed to chair the search committee, and I look forward to a successful conclusion of this process. We are looking for someone who can build on the success of Steve Owens and his leadership.” The individual chosen for the position is expected to demonstrate proven legal experience along with a deep knowledge of legal issues related to the evolving higher education landscape.

Buffkin / Baker has assisted the UM System on several executive searches over the past several years including MU vice chancellors at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and deans at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Positive Momentum

“Our goal is to select a person who will continue to strengthen the University of Missouri during a time of positive momentum for the university system,” said Ms. Wenneker. “We’re fortunate to have a strong and talented legal team already serving the university. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Buffkin/Baker executive search firm as we work diligently to find the best individual for this important position.”

Reporting directly to the board, the general counsel functions as an executive leader for the four-university system as well as an advisor to the president of the university system and the senior leadership team, said the search firm. Additionally, the general counsel will be an ambassador for the university, demonstrating a commitment to its academic missions and values.

The successful candidate will demonstrate strong management skills to work collaboratively as a key member of a talented leadership team, said Buffkin / Baker. The ability to communicate legal advice and succinctly present options to the board and the entire university is essential.

Key Qualifications 

Candidates must have a law degree from an ABA accredited law school and at least 10 years of law experience with a significant specialized experience in at least one area, said Buffkin / Baker. He or she must also be a member of the Missouri State Bar and licensed to practice in the federal and state courts of Missouri, and have had at least 10 years active practice in the state..


Recruiting Top-Notch Higher Education Leadership

In this brand new episode of ‘Talent Talks,’ Hunt Scanlon Media host Rob Adams is joined by Martin Baker, managing partner and Ken Carrick, partner from Buffkin Baker. Mr. Baker and Mr. Carrick take a deep dive into the current state of executive recruiting for the higher education sector and how this segment has been impacted by COVID-19. Listen Now!


Preferred qualifications for the role include broad and deep knowledge of the range of legal issues, including but not limited to employment and benefits, constitutional law, statutory and regulatory compliance, business, intellectual property, research/tech transfer, governance, cybersecurity, and data protection. Candidates should have knowledge of issues pertaining to higher education, coupled with the ability to clearly communicate legal advice and options. Experience managing legal and administrative staff is also preferred.

Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri-Columbia was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. Today, the University of Missouri System is one of the nation’s largest institutes of higher education, with more than 75,000 students on four campuses, a healthcare enterprise and an extension program whose activities reach each of the 114 counties of the state. A recent study indicated the UM System has a $5.4 billion economic impact on the state of Missouri.

A Specialty Boutique Firm

Buffkin / Baker is a specialty boutique search firm composed of industry leaders in their respective fields and each has over a decade of retained search experience. Their focus as search professionals is to recruit leaders in digital marketing/advertising, technology, healthcare, media/entertainment, finance, higher education and non-profit. The firm serves public, private, venture and private equity-backed companies. Its office locations include Nashville, TN; New York; Washington, D.C.; and Winston Salem, NC, with affiliate offices in London.

Buffkin / Baker is a member of Panorama Search, an international federation of retained firms with 18 firms and over 30 offices globally. Buffkin / Baker formed in 2017 with the merger of the Buffkin Group and Baker and Associates LLC.

Based in Winston Salem, NC, Mr. Baker has been in executive search for more than 22 years. In addition to his role as managing partner, he is also head of the firm’s higher education practice. He previously worked in the Atlanta office of Korn Ferry, where he developed search strategy and executed searches for numerous senior-level appointments.  He began his career as a research associate with Saxton Bampfylde, an executive search and management assessment firm in London. He has conducted searches for the positions of CEO, CFO, CIO, provost, dean, director and professor, having worked on over 350 searches throughout his career.

Related: Buffkin / Baker Recruits CFO for PE-Backed Digitech

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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