Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

April 22 , 2005

Profile: Rep. Judy Baker

Baker was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2004 to represent part of Boone County, District 25 [http://www.house.state.mo.us/bills051/member/mem025.htm]. In fact, the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia is within the boundaries of Baker’s district.

Her connections to UM-Columbia go back even further than her own education – her mother graduated from the College of Education, and later taught at West Boulevard Elementary School in Columbia, and her father graduated from the School of Medicine before a career in the military.

“We have a great challenge in getting people to understand the unique mission of the University of Missouri,” Baker said. “Higher education in the state is quite diversified, from vocational schools and community colleges to research and doctoral institutions. With that diversification comes the need to educate our legislators about the differences between institutions as well as the need for more resources.”

Baker notes that some legislators have called for resource management and allocation reform in higher education and that some believe there is a “need to overlay a business model over higher education.”

“If embraced the right way, that could be a good thing for the University of Missouri,” she said. “But there needs to be the right kind of business model.”

In the House, Baker serves on the Appropriations-Education, Senior Citizen Advocacy and Small Business Committees.

In addition to her legislative duties, Baker is an adjunct professor of managerial economics at Columbia College and a healthcare consultant and president of Cura Healthsystems Solutions. She also has worked as interim executive director of the University Physicians practice plan.

“I’m very concerned about the University Hospital and its ability to serve the people of the state,” Baker said. “It has the potential to be hit from various sides in the current budget situation – from UM’s operating budget to cuts in Medicaid to possible withholdings in both the current and upcoming year.”

Baker’s concern is that such cuts will stall the progress University Hospital has made. “It has made a tremendous comeback, and we have just recruited many world-class physicians,” she said. “We must make sure the Hospital stays strong.”

As a freshman legislator, a high point for Baker was the opportunity to acknowledge Dr. Wynn Volkert, professor of radiology and director of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute at UM-Columbia, as an Outstanding Missourian. “To stand as an alum and a legislator and be in a position to nominate him for that award was something I will never forget,” Baker said.

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