Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

January 27, 2006

Profile: Rep. Beth Low

For Rep. Beth Low (D-Kansas City), attending the University of Missouri-Columbia runs in the family. Not only did Low graduate with a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies, her parents first met at MU, her uncle did graduate work in veterinary medicine, and her aunt was the first woman to graduate with a degree in chemical engineering. “It’s an excellent school with a great reputation, and it’s affordable,” Low said. “I come from a middle class family, and it was great to be able to go there.”

“I could eat anything I wanted I was walking around campus so much!” Low said. While an undergraduate, she was a staff member at Laws Hall, and remembers the hall’s culture night, finals in the dorms – and finals food. “You can’t put a price on those experiences.”

Low’s most memorable professor is Kitty Holland, who taught political science and women’s studies in a seminar. “She always allowed us to discuss topics of interest and what was in the news for the first 15 or 20 minutes of class,” Low said. “Those discussions were so much fun. She was responsible for teaching me the joy of learning. That’s a great attribute for any teacher.”

During her studies, Low also spent a year studying at the University of Manchester in England, which she describes as a great opportunity.

After graduation, Low quickly found a job in a grassroots organizing group and became involved in campaign management for the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition. “I thought I would be an advocate, not an elected official,” she said. “My professional involvement changed me and led me to get a master’s in social work.”

When an opportunity to run for office came up, colleagues recruited Low. She was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2004 to serve part of Jackson County (District 39). “I see it as an opportunity to make a difference in the things I care about, and those opportunities don’t come up every day,” she said.

In the House, Low is a member of Appropriations/Health, Mental Health and Social Services; Higher Education; Children and Families; and Elections Committees. Her goals in office include furthering the legal protection of civil liberty and rights. “I want to help increase the participation of minorities and women in all levels of government,” she said. “I hope my work will help increase the opportunity for all young people to become their best self.”

A large number of students from Low’s district attend the University of Missouri. Low notes that the University’s impact also is seen in many other areas, including Extension and the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UMKC. She cites Kansas City Sourcelink as an example of how the University helps small businesses and economic development, and the UMKC School of Dentistry for providing low cost dental care for those who otherwise would not have access.

Low sees the mission of the University of Missouri as offering excellent and affordable education to Missourians. “Training the next generation of professionals in many areas is critical for a positive economic growth pattern and for our national security,” she said. “Without engineers, veterinarians, doctors, and nurses, we not only wouldn’t be economically successful, but we wouldn’t be a safe place to live.”

The greatest challenge ahead for the University is adequate funding that allows not only maintenance, but improvement, Lowe said. Other challenges include preparing students in K-12 education to be successful students in post-secondary education and preparing families for the financial burdens of higher education.

“Higher education is going to be our biggest source for economic development,” Low said. “Without prepared, trained and educated workers, we will not be able to attract the industries looming large on the horizon, such as the life sciences. We need the people here and trained to do those types of jobs.”

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