A group of speakers led a significant crowd to fill the ballroom on Wednesday at Northwest Missouri State University, pushing back on the Board of Regents’ decision to part ways with University President John Jasinski.

Dr. Patrick Harr, a longtime leader for Bearcat Athletics with nearly 50 years of service as a team physician for NWMSU, spoke first. Harr also previously served on the Regents from 2013-19. In part citing that experience, Harr suggested the best path forward may be for all seven on the panel — volunteers who are appointed by Gov. Mike Parson — to resign. This would enable others to step in and reboot the conversation on campus leadership. As it is, Jasinksi is headed out the door June 30, having served since 2009.

“I’m in a tough spot because ‘Coach T’ and I have been through the good, the bad and the ugly for almost 30 years,” Harr said, referring to Mel Tjeerdsma, who has been a regent since 2019 after decades of legendary accomplishments at the helm of Bearcat football. “And, you know, I know we’re all supposed to love this place. I just wonder if we love it enough, based on your decision-making. And if there’s not some way that you can cross that bridge, I think, the only thing that would help is if you all resigned. And we just start over with a new board that isn’t petty, personal and political.”

Chairman John Moore, while again declining to specify the Regents’ reasons for forcing Jasinski out of office, rebutted what Harr and others said about board members’ “love” for Northwest. Tjeerdsma himself did not speak at the meeting, and Moore has served as the exclusive spokesman for the board’s view of things.

“I want to thank all of the speakers today. Everybody was sincere, everybody was very civil in how they expressed themselves,” Moore said. “I’ve taken down some notes on things that we can take a look at doing better ... It may or may not seem like it today to everyone here, but every single person in this room ... cares deeply about Northwest Missouri State University. We just may not agree on the best path forward.”

Among those on the board who do not agree with Moore, Tjeerdsma and the board majority is Student Regent Connor Thompson, who is about to graduate with the Class of 2022 and will thereafter leave the board. Thompson said he is upset with the lack of transparency exhibited by the Regents. Student regents are nonvoting members of the board.

“It’s bad,” Thompson said. “I think part of it is, they (the Regents) are the Northwest leadership team, and so they have supposedly the best of the university’s interests at heart. But I think that they should include more students. Because I think that even for the closed-door discussions, I’m not even included in those. And if you’re going to have someone like the student regent not included in those discussions, then why have the position at all? If you’re going to make these decisions that very much affect Northwest?”

Marcus Clem can be reached at marcus.clem@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowClem

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