Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

April 15, 2005

Profile: Rep. Gayle Kingery, Chairman, Higher Education Committee

After earning a bachelor of science degree in education from Southeast Missouri State University, Kingery came to Columbia in 1969 to study physical education at MU.

"My world at that time centered around sports, and Mizzou was the best place to be," Kingery said. During the 1969 season, when Kingery served as a graduate assistant under Coach Dan Devine, the Tigers went to the Orange Bowl and lost to Penn State 10-3.

"We had a great football staff, a great football program with a nationally-ranked team, and I had the opportunity to work with Dan Devine," Kingery said.

One of his fondest memories was being assigned to drive Coach Devine to St. Louis on Sunday afternoons to do a television show there and show film to alumni and supporters.

After serving 30 years as an administrator and educator in Poplar Bluff, Kingery earned a reputation as a great high school football coach. In fact, many friends and colleagues still call him "Coach" in the Capitol hallways.

Kingery was first elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2002 to represent part of Butler County, District 154. He and his wife, Jolene, make the weekly drive to Jefferson City each Sunday and return to Poplar Bluff on Thursday afternoons. They recently spent an afternoon touring the MU campus and meeting with University leaders.

Kingery serves as chair of the Higher Education Committee. He felt it was important to break the higher education committee away from the education committee this year because higher education had been lost in the shuffle over the last four years.

"We do not want to be a second rate state as far as our education system is concerned, and by not taking care of higher education that was certainly a possibility," he said. "We need to fund our higher education institutions properly."

Kingery also serves on the Appropriations-Education and Elementary and Secondary Education Committees and on the Special Committee on Education Funding.

He notes there has never been a formula for higher education funding to serve the needs of the institutions. "My goal is to work to make sure that we adequately fund higher education. We need to give the institutions the dollars they need to operate and we do not want to force the institutions to have to increase the burden on students," he said. "If we can bring the total state budget under control and make some needed cuts in other areas, then we will be able to free up the dollars needed to make Missouri the model state for higher education funding."

The growing economy will help, but will not solve all of our problems, Kingery said. "We need to study plans and try to craft a formula to best fund higher education in the future."

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