Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

December 16, 2005

Profile: Sen. Chuck Graham

Sen. Chuck Graham (D-Columbia) is serving his first term as the state senator from the 19th District, which includes Boone and Randolph Counties – and the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia. “As the home of the University’s flagship campus, the impact on my senatorial district is extremely significant,” Graham said. “The University leads the way as an employer and also is the premier provider of educational and cultural opportunities.”

Graham, a native of Louisiana, Mo., earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1987. Back in his home state, he worked as the Missouri Coordinator for the ADA Project at MU, where he was responsible for providing training and technical assistance to business, state and local governments, and for people with disabilities across the state.

Prior to his election to the Senate, Graham served four terms in the Missouri House of Representatives, District 24. During his tenure in the House, Graham served as chair of the House Education Appropriations Committee and presided over the largest-ever budget for higher education. Graham also sponsored proposals to create the wheelchair basketball team at MU and to help secure state bonds for the Mizzou Arena.

Elected to the Senate in 2004, Graham serves as the assistant minority floor leader. He serves on Education; Gubernatorial Appointments; Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence; Pensions, Veterans’ Affairs and General Laws Committees.

Among other honors, Graham is the recipient of the Geyer Award from the MU Alumni Association in 2005; the Tiger’s Roar Award from the MU Alumni Association in 2002; the Distinguished Legislator of the Year Award from the Missouri Community College Association in 2001; and the A+ Award from the National Education Association in 1998. Graham was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Missourians in 1996 by the Missouri Jaycees.

He currently serves on the Governor’s Council on Disability and has been recognized by numerous organizations for his leadership and work to improve opportunities for people with disabilities.

“If the state of Missouri is to succeed in the future, a strong higher education system will undoubtedly be at the heart of that success,” Graham said. “All of Missouri’s higher education institutions – not just Mizzou – play an important role in educating students, but they also are a vital component of our economic development plans. Several of the universities also conduct important research that could pave the way for important scientific breakthroughs.”

The University is an integral part of Missouri’s economic development strategy, Graham said. “Even if you look at the University as a provider of jobs, it is one of the biggest employers in the state, especially in the Boone County area,” he said. “It also is the source of vital research and important information to the business community.”

Graham cites the new Life Sciences Business Incubator as an example. “Companies looking to locate to Missouri undoubtedly investigate the merits of the state’s University system before deciding whether to invest here,” he said.

Yet a lack of adequate funding is major problem for all levels of higher education, Graham said. “The case for higher education needs to be made in a forceful fashion because the appeasement of those who are apathetic to or outright opponents of higher education will not work in the long run,” he said.

“Given the difficult circumstances of today’s funding situation, I think the faculty and staff of the University do a tremendous job with the resources they are given,” Graham said.

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