Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

April 1, 2005

Profile: Rep. Jeff Harris, Honorary Chair of the UM Caucus

A 1983 graduate of Hickman High School in Columbia, Harris graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Vanderbilt University in 1987 and received his juris doctor from Cornell Law School in 1991.

"I didn't attend the University of Missouri, but I bleed black and gold!" he said. "Going to Mizzou games with my dad and granddad was a treasured part of my childhood growing up in Columbia." Harris started going to football games during Dan Devine's last season and remembers attending basketball games when the Tigers still played in Brewer.

Harris did attend school on campus – he spent kindergarten through sixth grade at the Lab School, now Townsend Hall. Today he notes that the "interior of the building is different, and the white rocks playground is gone. Lab School was a unique and special place to learn, and I benefited tremendously from it."

He was first elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2002 to represent part of the City of Columbia (District 23). Harris currently serves as the Minority Leader of the House and is an ex officio member of all House committees.

Harris cites a number of policy issues facing the University of Missouri, including affordability and access; declining state support for higher education; and the issue of stem cell research. "We should promote opportunity by making sure that the cost of a degree from the University is within the reach of every Missourian who wants it."

As a co-founder of the UM Caucus, Harris notes it's been interesting to see how many legislators have some connection to the University. "It's brought legislators from both parties together," he said. "In that sense, it promotes a sense of esprit de corps for University supporters in the General Assembly."

In addition to his legislative duties, Harris is an attorney. He is the Missouri representative on the State Legislative Advisory Board of the Democratic Leadership Council. He serves on the Board of Directors of Prevent Child Abuse Missouri and is a member of the Missouri Kidney Program Advisory Council.

Harris was selected to be part of an eight-person delegation to the People's Republic of China by the American Council of Young Political Leaders. Among other honors, he received a "Rising Star Award" from Missouri Votes Conservation and the Hickman High School "Super Kewp" Alumni Award. He was a member of the Governor's Commission on the Future of Higher Education and served on the Rules Committee for the Democratic National Convention.

To secure stable support for higher education, Harris states that voters must elect lawmakers who support it. "We should also attempt to leverage federal and private research funds using existing resources," he said. "We should adhere to fiscally sound practices and continue to improve efficiency."

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