Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

October 12, 2005

Profile: Sen. Luann Ridgeway

Sen. Luann Ridgeway (R-Smithville) received a juris doctor degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 1981. “I have great University of Missouri graduates and students in Clay County,” Ridgeway said. “The University of Missouri also has made a very personal impact on me as this is where I obtained my law degree.”

A native Missourian born and raised in Moberly, Ridgeway attended William Woods University and Westminster College, where she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science and history. During her undergraduate years, she spent a semester at American University in Washington, D.C., working on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide.

After graduation, Ridgeway studied at Oxford University in England, and returned to the U.S. to attend law school at UMKC.

At the time, the new law building – including the Leon E. Bloch Library – had just opened on the UMKC campus. One of Ridgeway’s fondest memories of being a student is attending the “new” law school – and, of course, graduation day.

Her most memorable professor at UMKC was James “Jim” Jeans, Sr., now professor emeritus of law. Jeans not only taught the law, but taught students like Ridgeway how to think, analyze and challenge assumptions. “It’s made me be a better lawyer and a better legislator,” she said.

Ridgeway practiced law in Kansas City before opening her own practice in 1987 in Smithville, where she handles a variety of cases in her general practice.

Before serving in the Senate, Ridgeway represented District 35 in the Missouri House of Representatives. She served five terms in the House, where she was the Assistant Minority Whip of the House Republican Caucus from 1995-1999.

She was elected to the Senate in 2004 to represent District 17, Clay County. Ridgeway serves on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules; Appropriations; Joint Committee on Capital Improvements and Leases Oversight; Commerce, Energy and the Environment; Pensions, Veterans’ Affairs and General Laws; and Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics.

Among other honors, Ridgeway is the recipient of the Missouri Bar Association Distinguished Legislator Award; the Judicial Conference of Missouri Outstanding Legislator Award; the Champion of Justice Award; the Missouri State Teachers Association Friend of Education Award; and the Missouri Farm Bureau Friend of Agriculture Award. She also has served as the American Council of Young Political Leaders Delegate to Russia.

According to Ridgeway, the greatest challenges facing higher education in Missouri are tuition cost containment, maintaining and improving the quality of classroom construction, and general fiscal responsibility.

“Education is the key to personal freedom,” Ridgeway said. “Missouri’s growth and economic stability is predicated on an educated citizenry.”

While Ridgeway acknowledges the University’s contribution to economic development in the state, she notes that “academics, not economic development, is the primary mission of the University. The mission of the University of Missouri should be to provide a world-class higher education to all academically-qualified Missourians at a cost that can be afforded.”

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