Dr. Dennis Lancaster is a familiar name and face at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP). After serving in a variety of teaching and administrative roles for more than three decades, Lancaster will become the university’s chancellor on Jan. 1, 2022.
“We had a number of strong candidates for the chancellor position,” said Jim Baker, chair of the search committee and vice president for research and economic development and international programs on the Springfield campus. “Dennis has an excellent record at MSU-West Plains. We believe he is the best candidate to lead the university.”
Lancaster has been affiliated with MSU-WP for more than 30 years.
He served as acting chancellor/instructor for six months in 2007 and was appointed assistant professor/director of the Darr Honors Program in January 2009. He served as the dean of academic affairs for eight years and has served as interim chancellor since July 2020.
“Dennis stepped in as interim chancellor in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Missouri State President Clif Smart. “He successfully steered the university through the most challenging time most of us can remember. I have total confidence in Dennis’s ability to lead Missouri State-West Plains through the next years.”
Lancaster replaces Chancellor Shirley Lawler, who announced in June 2020 that she would step down due to health issues.
“I’ve had the great privilege of serving Missouri State University and its West Plains campus for nearly three decades, and I’m honored now to be able to serve as its chancellor,” said Lancaster. “We have a committed team of educators and student service professionals focused on the success of our students and the Ozark communities we serve. I’m thrilled about what we’ve been able to do together this past year and a half, but I’m even more excited about what we’ll be doing in the future.”
Lancaster has a master’s degree from the University of Missouri and a doctorate in higher education leadership from Lindenwood University.
He joined the campus as a per course English and journalism instructor in 1990 and was hired full time in 1992 as assistant director of university communications/lecturer. He has also served as special projects coordinator/lecturer and assistant to the chancellor/instructor.
Lancaster’s appointment is subject to approval by the Missouri State Board of Governors at its next regular meeting on Dec. 16.
Lancaster will be paid $160,000 per year. Other benefits include:
•A $1,500 per month housing allowance.
•Access to the West Plains Country Club.
•Complimentary tickets to all West Plains campus events.
•Funds to host university events.