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Name Changes Approved by Senate Committee as UM weighs in

The University of Missouri outlined its position on the proposed Southwest Missouri State University name change this week as bills changing the institution's name to Missouri State University in both the House and Senate began to move through the legislative process. UM System President Elson S. Floyd sent a letter to SMSU President John Keiser that reaffirmed UM's role as the state's only land-grant and public research institution and called for clarifications and qualifications to be incorporated in any legislation that would change the SMSU name. Meanwhile, a Senate committee combined two name change bills into a substitute bill that could face floor debate soon, while a House counterpart was assigned to committee with a hearing expected soon.

The Senate Pensions and General Laws Committee this week passed a committee substitute bill that would change the names of two institutions and incorporate several other provisions related to higher education. Senate committee substitute for Senate Bills 714 and 761 was adopted Wednesday morning in Committee. The legislation would change Southwest Missouri State University to Missouri State University, change Missouri Western State College to Missouri Western State University, and change the board makeup of SMSU to ten members, including one from each of Missouri 's nine congressional districts and one nonvoting student. Missouri Western would have a statewide mission of applied learning but would also phase out most associate degree offerings. The committee substitute also outlines that no four-year institution can receive A-plus designation. In the House HB777 sponsored by B.J. Marsh, R-Springfield, also calls for changing the SMSU name. This bill, with more than 100 cosponsors, was referred to House Education Committee this week with a hearing expected soon.

UM System President Elson S. Floyd this week sent a letter to SMSU President John Keiser outlining the University of Missouri's position on the SMSU name change. The letter reaffirms the University of Missouri's historic role as the state's land-grant and research institution with responsibilities to serve all citizens of the state, including those in Southwest Missouri. The letter also expresses concern that a name change for SMSU runs the risk of stretching limited state resources too thin and would result in programs that are inadequately funded and of poor quality. The letter calls for specified safeguards to be added to any legislation authorizing a name change for SMSU.   To read the full letter, please click here.