Candidate for Missouri State president told a ‘whopper’ about why he was let go at Northwest Missouri State, board member argues

Did a candidate for Missouri State University president flat-out lie about why his presidency at Northwest Missouri State ended?

That was the clear indication of at least two Northwest Board of Regents members, even as the MSU Board of Governors was meeting Friday on replacing the retiring President Clif Smart.

If his story is indeed untrue, former Northwest President John Jasinski – now an MSU provost and one of three candidates to be the new president of MSU – may have actually torpedoed his chances by putting forth his explanation for why his contract at Northwest was non-renewed in 2021.

As part of the interview process for the MSU opening, Jasinski reportedly claimed this week he was non-renewed at Northwest by regents upset at his handling of a fraternity suspension in 2015.

“I made some tough decisions as a president and the bottom line with that is, I had to remove a Greek organization. I took a lot of heat for that,” he said, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

“… Removing that Greek organization led to some individuals getting on the board and not renewing my contract.”

Northwest regents member Jason Klindt had been a member of the fraternity in question, Tau Kappa Epsilon, but back in 1999, long before its 2015 suspension by Jasinski. Still, Klindt said he feels clearly – and wrongfully – implicated by Jasinski’s claim, especially since a reporter reached out to him for comment on it.

Klindt told The Heartlander Friday that he knew and liked Jasinski when he joined the board in 2018, and that the fraternity incident was never discussed by the board at all in the intervening years, and certainly not in its decision to let Jasinski walk.

“I could tell you with 100% certainty that at no point in my tenure on the board has it ever come up as a topic of conversation because [the fraternity’s suspension] just wasn’t controversial. That was a decade ago,” he said, adding that he actually agreed with the suspension.

“What I remember of it when I read it is that I would have thrown them off campus too.”


‘Toxic work environment’

Instead, Klindt said, Jasinski’s contract was non-renewed because of concerns he’d created a “toxic work environment” – and, Klindt says, because “he has a tenuous relationship with the truth.” He said he’d heard various complaints about Jasinski, and that Northwest was losing top employees as a result.

“The leadership style, the management style, was rubbing many faculty and staff the wrong way. We were losing folks,” Klindt told Scott Faughn of This Week in Missouri Politics.

Even when the Northwest Board of Regents had already made the decision to move on from Jasinski, Klindt said, he was given two years to land another job. When that came and went, Klindt said Jasinski “tried to intimidate the board, was how I read it.

“He came back to us at the 11th hour before his term was up and said, ‘OK, now I’d like a two-year extension.’ And then he proceeded to send out an inflammatory email to campus, trying to rally people to his cause. The problem he had was that nobody saluted. When he sent out the email, basically saying ‘these guys are a bunch of no good folks,’ nobody rushed to his defense.”

Klindt’s fellow Northwest board member John Moore corroborated his assertion that Jasinski’s “vengeful fraternity member” story was fake.

“Absolutely zero – no factor whatsoever,” Moore told the News-Leader about whether the fraternity incident played a part in Jasinski’s departure.

“There was a belief by a majority of the board that we would be better off discontinuing his service but doing so in a way that was fair and recognized a number of good things that had happened,” Moore, who then chaired the board, told the newspaper. “It was time to move on to somebody new.”

That was Klindt’s view too – as well as three others, who joined the two in a 5-2 vote to not renew Jasinski’s contract.

“I just can’t emphasize enough to you the tangential relationship that I observed that [Jasinski] had with the truth,” Klindt told Faughn. “And I think others probably observed that as well.”

Asked by the Heartlander for an example of that difficult relationship with the truth, Klindt pointed to university press releases sent out under Jasinski that trumpeted record enrollment. Klindt said that was a “lie of omission,” since the increase was in less-lucrative online graduate students, while on-campus enrollment was actually declining.

Staff were confused when “record enrollment” failed to send new money their way.

Klindt also cited reports he got that Jasinski would tell a group one thing, then tell another group something else.

In a posting of the News-Leader’s story on X Friday morning – headlined  “Northwest board members refute Jasinski’s ‘narrative’ about losing the president’s job” – Missouri U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt cautioned against Jasinski’s hiring at MSU.

“Hey @missouristate. Choosing a guy this immature to lead a world class University seems like a really bad idea,” Schmitt wrote.

Added ⁦ Missouri 7th District U.S. Rep. Eric Burlison, “@MissouriState this is a big red flag for Northwest board members to refute John Jasinski’s account of job exit. We need to take the Bears to the next level and this ain’t it.”

The Heartlander reached out to Dr. Jasinski for comment via email.


‘Made up to look like a hero’

Why, when there were four other board members who voted with Klindt, would Jasinski have singled out Klindt for blame in his departure from Northwest?

“This is just me, but I believe that what John was doing here is trying to create a new narrative as to why he was let go, so that it sounded better for the audience that he was trying to impress, to get this new job. The problem with his narrative is that it is made-up, whole cloth.

“I think this was … a story that has been made up to try and make him look like a hero.

“I guess I’m stunned, is maybe the word that I would use. I’m stunned that you would make up a story that is so obviously wrong and try and pass that off and hope that you hope that no one noticed.”

Instead, ironically, it may have hurt Jasinski’s chances to become MSU president. A source told The Heartlander Friday afternoon that the university’s Board of Governors appeared prepared to make him president, particularly as a close associate of the outgoing Smart, but that the controversy over his explanation for his Northwest exit may have changed things.

It’s changed things already by prompting Klindt to come forward and defend his honor.

Asked about the possibility that the incident might only end up hurting Jasinski’s chances of becoming MSU president, Klindt acknowledged the potential irony.

“He chose, though, to attack somebody, albeit not directly. And that got me off the bench. The whopper that he told pulled me off the bench, to say this isn’t right and somebody should point out the truth here.”

Has anyone at MSU reached out for Klindt’s knowledge of Jasinski’s departure from Northwest?

“No, and I’ve really been surprised,” he said. “Obviously, when John left Northwest, we conducted a presidential search. And I will tell you that I think it’s probably the only important thing that a Board of Regents or Board of Governors does is hire a president. And you know, when we did that I did my own research and called folks at different places just for this reason – to find out, ‘Hey, what are we not hearing?’

“Because obviously candidates are going to tell you what’s the best thing about them, what I wanted to know was just like, ‘What else is there that we should know before we do this?’”


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