Gary D. Forsee

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Gary D. Forsee (born 1950) was the chairman and chief executive officer of Sprint Nextel Corporation (2003–2007) and served as president of the University of Missouri System from 2007-2011. Forsee resides in Columbia, Missouri, the headquarters of the UM System.

Early life[edit]

Forsee was born in Kansas City, Missouri and received a B.S. from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 1972. While there he became a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, and in, 2009, he received the "Man of the Year Award" from Kappa Sigma, in recognition of his exemplary leadership.[1]

Sprint and Sprint Nextel[edit]

Gary Forsee succeeded William Esrey as CEO of Sprint in 2004. During his first year, he led a dramatic rise in Sprint's performance and stock price and negotiated the Sprint Nextel merger, earning him the honor of being named one of the "Best Managers" of 2004 by Business Week magazine.[2] Together with Nextel Communications' CEO, Tim Donahue, Forsee merged the two companies in 2005 and spun off its land line business to Embarq in 2006.

The merger was intended to bring together two strong brands, Sprint in consumer cellular and Nextel in business cellular, but the so-called "synergies" expected from the merger never materialized. Instead, the diverse cultures of the two companies led to internal clashes between former Sprint and Nextel employees and the resulting internal conflict led to serious customer service issues. Combined with network troubles plaguing the company from both legacy networks, Sprint Nextel soon found itself bleeding subscribers and facing ever-lowering monthly subscriber revenue (a.k.a. "ARPU," or average revenue per unit.)[3]

In 2007 Sprint took considerable heat after it terminated contracts of 1,000 of its 53 million customers who it said were making 40 to 50 calls a month complaining about the service,[4] while customers exited both of Sprint Nextel's wireless networks in droves.

Forsee was ousted after Sprint lost 337,000 customers in the third quarter of 2007,[5] and a little over six months later the company wrote off $31 billion related to the merger—essentially writing off three quarters of $42 billion Nextel's market capitalization value as of the time of the merger.[6] In a significant reversal of market perception of his performance, the former "Best Manager" was named one of the "Worst CEOs" in 2009 by Fortune Magazine based on the disastrous outcome of the Sprint Nextel merger.[citation needed]

Despite Gary Forsee's widely reported poor management performance throughout the Sprint Nextel merger and afterwards, he was awarded a severance package that described as "exceptional:"[7] Foresee's severance package added up to over $40 million, including a $1.5 million salary through 2009, $5 million in bonuses, stock options and restricted shares worth $23 million and an $84,000-a-month pension for life.[8]

University of Missouri[edit]

After resigning from Sprint Nextel under fire, but before his last day on the job with Sprint Nextel, Forsee accepted a position as the 22nd president of the four-campus University of Missouri System on December 20, 2007.[9] He succeeded Gordon H. Lamb, who had served in the position since April 2007. Forsee began his duties Feb. 18, 2008. His term has not been without controversy, however. Shortly after being named one of the "Worst CEOs," Forsee was again on the hot seat over alleged insider dealing in a transaction between the University of Missouri and Cerner Corporation, under which Cerner would provide healthcare information services to the university and assimilate members of the university's I.T. department in the process. Forsee's son worked at Cerner for several years prior, and Forsee served on corporate boards with Cerner's CEO, Neal Patterson. The matter quickly fell to back pages of the news and the uproar died down, but mistrust of Forsee was evident within UM's ranks, according to news reports published at the time.[10] After taking an extended leave since December, 2010 to care for his wife, Sherry, who was diagnosed with cancer, Forsee announced his immediate resignation to the UM board of curators on January 7, 2011.[11]


  • 2008–2011: president, University of Missouri System
  • 2005–2007: president & chief executive officer, Sprint Nextel Corporation
  • 2002–2005: vice chairman of Domestic Operations, BellSouth Corporation
  • 2002: chairman, Cingular Wireless
  • 2000–2002: BellSouth International
    • 2000–2002: president
    • 1999–2000: executive vice president & chief staff officer
  • 1998–1999: president & chief executive, Global One
  • (?–1998): vice president of sales, AT&T's federal systems division


External links[edit]

  • Listed on Business Week 2004 Best Managers
  • December 2007 news release
  • Listed by Forbes as one of the worst CEOs; featured on ABC News; April 2008 [1]
Business positions
Preceded by
William Esrey
Sprint CEO
Succeeded by
Dan Hesse
Academic offices
Preceded by
Elson S. Floyd
President of the University of Missouri System
Succeeded by
Steve Owens (2011-12 - Interim)
Timothy M. Wolfe