r. Tom Spencer named interim VC for research and economic development

Dear Mizzou community,

Despite an exhaustive national search and quality candidate recommendations from the search committee, timing and circumstances have left us unable to select a permanent hire for vice chancellor for research and economic development at this time. We will consider our options for a renewed search in the future.

It is our pleasure to announce that Dr. Thomas Spencer, Curators’ Distinguished Professor in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, will serve as interim vice chancellor for research and economic development at Mizzou effective January 26, 2021. In this role, Spencer will report to the president and provost. Recently, Spencer was named scientific director of NextGen Precision Health, and he will continue to hold the rank of professor of animal sciences in CAFNR and obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health in the School of Medicine, as well as Curators’ Distinguished Professor.

In both administrative roles, Spencer will advance a culture that promotes and celebrates research, develop proactive approaches to grow extramural research and scholarly output as measured by the AAU, lead the scientific pursuits and the successful implementation of NextGen Precision Health programs, create business models for existing and new centers to achieve excellence, improve the model for investments in centers, maintain and restructure core facilities to best meet the needs of our faculty, be an active partner in the recruitment of outstanding faculty researchers, and utilize resources for investments in strategic areas.

Much of this work is familiar to Spencer. In April, he was named associate vice chancellor for research and strategic initiatives in biomedicine and agriculture. In this capacity, Spencer has worked with the provost, deans and center directors to shape and enhance the current research centers, developed strategies for new centers of excellence in research and creative works, supported the Research Core Facilities, coordinated faculty recruitment among departments and colleges to support strategic research thrusts and led strategic initiatives that will enhance MU’s AAU research mission.

To aid in a smooth transition into the interim vice chancellor role, Spencer will immediately begin working even closer with Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Mark McIntosh, who plans to retire at the end of January.

Spencer is a reproductive and developmental biologist nationally and internationally recognized for his work on the development and function of the uterus and placenta. He has authored or coauthored over 300 research articles, reviews and book chapters as well as been the editor-in-chief of Biology of Reproduction, a premier journal in reproductive biology research. His current scholarly impact is an h-index of 103, which is in the top 1% of all scientists in the world. His research program has been continuously funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health.

Other career accomplishments since 2004 include induction into the inaugural fellow class of the Society for the Study of Reproduction, a UM System President’s Award for Sustained Career Excellence, election into the National Academy of Sciences, fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a research award, a trainee mentor award and new investigator award from the Society for the Study of Reproduction, an American Society of Animal Science Physiology and Endocrinology Award, and a Sigma Xi Young Investigator Award.

Spencer will continue to serve a vital role in enhancing Mizzou’s research mission and the future of NextGen for the benefit of our university and the citizens of Missouri and beyond. We look forward to working with him in this new capacity.

We also want to extend a big thank you to and share our immense gratitude for Mark for his nearly 40 years of service to Mizzou and to the UM System in various roles to support research and economic development. There will be plans to celebrate his retirement and accomplishments in January.


Mun Y. Choi, Ph.D.
President, University of Missouri

Latha Ramchand, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Missouri