UMR swim team introduced in House, Senate
Members of the University of Missouri-Rolla men’s swimming team were recognized on both the House and Senate floors for their award-winning season. The Miner swimming team posted its highest result at a national meet since 1998 by completing a fourth place finish at the NCAA Division II Swimming Championships this March. Sen. Frank Barnitz (D-Lake Spring) introduced the team on the Senate floor and Rep. Bob May (R-Rolla) introduced the team in the House. The team also was presented with a resolution in honor of their efforts this past season.
Lawmakers send omnibus higher education bill, construction appropriations bill to governor
After months of debate, the House of Representatives on Monday, May 7, took up and passed SB389 (PDF 1.3 MB) the omnibus higher education bill that includes a partial sale of MOHELA assets, tuition restraint, performance measures and increased financial aid programs. Lawmakers debated the bill for two hours and discussed several amendments, all of which were defeated. The bill was then adopted by a 91-64 vote. It is now on the governor’s desk, and he is expected to sign the legislation soon in ceremonies around the state. [Read more…]
Senate Education Committee passes new version of intellectual diversity bill
The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, May 9, took up and passed a substitute version of HB213, the intellectual diversity legislation sponsored by Rep. Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield). The Senate committee substitute eliminates the references to intellectual diversity and also removes the list of “examples” that could be included in an annual report to the General Assembly that outline steps institutions are taking regarding intellectual diversity. The new version of the bill requires institutions to have policies in place should students feel their grades are impacted by their political, religious or social views, and that those policies are communicated to students. The bill also asks institutions to provide a report on complaints filed and the outcome of the reviews. The legislation still must be considered by the full Senate, and then the full House, before it would become law.
House Veterans Committee passes bill to provide tuition assistance to combat veterans
SB75, which would provide a tuition waiver for veterans who served in combat since Sept. 11, 2001, was passed in a substitute form by the House Special Committee on Veterans on Wednesday, May 9. The bill limits the amount of tuition institutions can charge to eligible veterans to 25 percent for undergraduates and includes a ten-year limit of eligibility after discharge. The University of Missouri encouraged lawmakers to consider making the provision subject to appropriation so that institutions are not left to bear the full cost. The bill must go through the House Rules Committee and be considered by the House, and then be returned to the Senate for final consideration.
Campuses and extension receive funding to expand business programs
Missouri entrepreneurs will gain assistance in obtaining federal grants, writing business plans, finding capital, getting patents and commercializing research, thanks to new funding from HB7. The Missouri Small Business Development Centers, administered through MU Extension, received $500,000 for the Missouri Federal and State Technology Program. MO FAST connects small businesses with University expertise to access Small Business Innovation Research grants. Under a federally-funded pilot project, MO FAST moved Missouri from 39th in the nation to 27th in attracting SBIR funding. The new funding will allow expansion of the program to a statewide, high-growth technology network.
Innovation Centers on the Rolla, St. Louis and Columbia campuses and the Missouri Technology Corporation garnered a $450,000 increase over FY07 funding levels. The goal of the innovation centers and the MTC is to attract and retain high-technology companies and commercialize existing research. The funds will assist business specialists on UM campuses as well as other state universities in helping new businesses reduce risk, maximize opportunity and shorten the cycle time from start-up to maturity.
Sen. McCaskill speaks at UMKC commencement
Sen. Claire McCaskill visits with students during UMKC's commencement. Photo credit: Gary Barber.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) delivered the commencement address at UMKC’s Unified Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 5, ensuring the nearly 800 graduates that failure is part of life and success is found in doing what makes you happy. McCaskill used herself as an example, citing a run for governor and the unsuccessful prosecution of several significant court cases as failures but adding that her commitment to her own passion in life landed her in the U.S. Senate. A lifelong Missourian, McCaskill received both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia. During her comments, McCaskill told students that nearly three decades earlier she had been in their shoes and shared their feeling of accomplishment, having waited tables to help pay her way through school. “Graduates from UMKC are earning a degree that will allow them to look to their future with confidence,” McCaskill said. “I’m proud to be part of the University of Missouri tradition.”
Also attending the ceremony as members of the platform party were Curator Warren Erdman, Rep. Beth Low (D-Kansas City), Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone), Rep. Michael Brown (D-Kansas City), Rep. Jonas Hughes (D-Kansas City), Rep. Craig Bland (D-Kansas City) and Rep. Mike Talboy (D-Kansas City).
Rep. Jonas Hughes
As a student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Rep. Leonard (Jonas) Hughes IV (D-Kansas City) took advantage of opportunities to become involved on campus. He served as president of the Student Government Association and The African American Student Union, worked two years as manager of the Kangaroos basketball team and was court warming king, among other activities. Today he is focused on giving students who follow him at UMKC the same opportunities by working to increase the state’s support for higher education in Missouri. “I think it is very important to continue to fund higher education at an appropriate level because it will result in us preparing future leaders for tomorrow,” Hughes said. “UMKC is a great example of a place that builds future leaders for tomorrow.” [Read more…]
U.S. House passes Student Loan Sunshine Act
The U.S. House of Representatives passed HR890, the Student Loan Sunshine Act of 2007, on Wednesday, May 9, by a vote of 414-3. The bill establishes requirements for lenders and higher education institutions in order to protect students and other borrowers receiving educational loans. The legislation comes after investigations, began by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and followed by several state attorney generals, into lending practices between higher education institutions and lenders. It would require institutions to develop their own codes of conduct for financial aid employees, which must include a ban on gifts. In addition, such employees would be banned from consulting or serving on advisory councils for lenders. The bill also would prohibit risk-sharing agreements between lenders and schools. While institutions could retain preferred lender lists under HR890, they would have to provide information to the public on how those vendors were selected and ensure that students have access to all lenders of their choice. The Senate is expected to include similar provisions from HR890 in their overall Higher Education Reauthorization Bill.