Express Scripts opens headquarters at UMSL park

Express Scripts, Inc., one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit managers, celebrated the grand opening of its corporate headquarters at a new University of Missouri-St. Louis research park on Friday, June 8. The 315,000 square foot building houses 1,100 employees. Among those attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Gov. Matt Blunt, U.S. Rep. William “Lacy” Clay (D-MO), St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, Express Scripts CEO George Paz and UMSL Chancellor Tom George. “Express Scripts and UMSL have already begun exploring the many opportunities for collaboration that will greatly benefit us both and the community at large,” said Paz, citing internship programs, information technology projects, professional development and joint assistance to local schools. Express Scripts is the largest Fortune 500 company with corporate headquarters on a university campus.

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Governor signs higher education budget

Gov. Matt Blunt signed the higher education appropriations bill on Wednesday, June 27. The budget includes a $41.2 million increase for the state’s public higher education institutions, including the University of Missouri. Appropriations for the University of Missouri increased by 4.2 percent, or $430.9 million, for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2007. The state budget also includes a $20.4 million increase for scholarship programs, which adds to the $25 million in new funding for scholarships in the Fiscal Year 07 supplemental budget.

Higher education leaders begin to consider funding formula ideas for public institutions

The Department of Higher Education has formed a Higher Education Funding Formula (HEFF) Task Force to focus on the way in which public funds for operation of Missouri’s public higher education institutions are allocated. The task force includes representatives from the public two- and four-year institutions, staff from the Senate and House as well as the governor’s office, and DHE officials. The group is working with Brenda Albright, a national higher education finance consultant, who presented preliminary comments at the CBHE’s June meeting in Springfield. The task force plans to complete its work over the next year in preparation for the Fiscal Year 2010 budget request. The University of Missouri is represented on the task force by Stephen Lehmkuhle, senior vice president for academic affairs. [Read more…]

New Access Missouri need-based aid program set to launch this fall

The Department of Higher Education has announced that the new Access Missouri need-based financial aid program that was adopted as part of the omnibus higher education bill this session will go into effect this fall, with new awards presented in September for those students who qualify. The department is preparing for a significant increase in both dollars and numbers of students participating in the program. Lawmakers increased funding for need-based aid from $27 million to $72 million this year, and repealed the existing Gallagher and Missouri College Guarantee programs to create the new, streamlined Access program. DHE officials estimate that more than 40,000 Missouri students will receive need-based aid next year in the program, compared to 16,000 who received aid last year. University of Missouri officials have estimated that nearly 10,000 of its students will be eligible for some need-based award.

Students qualifying for need-based aid are not the only ones preparing to see increases in support in the future. The state’s Bright Flight merit-based program will increase from its current $2,000 level to $3,000 per year beginning in fall 2010, and expand to a new program that provides $1,000 awards to students who score in the top fourth or fifth percentile of ACT or SAT tests.

Key Senate committees see chair changes as Sen. Gross resigns for new post

Two Senate committees of particular interest to higher education now have new chairs after former Sen. Chuck Gross (R-St. Charles) resigned Friday, June 1, to become the St. Charles County director of administration. Gross, a MU alum, served 15 years in the state House and Senate and served as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee since 2004.

On Wednesday, June 13, Senate President Pro-Tem Mike Gibbons (R-Kirkwood) named Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) the new chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees the budget-writing process for the upper chamber. Nodler had served as vice-chair of the committee under Gross and also had served as chairman of the Senate Education Committee. The sponsor of last session’s omnibus higher education bill SB389, he is profiled [link to PROFILE] in this week’s update.

On Monday, June 25, Gibbons announced that Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) is the new chair of the Senate Education Committee that oversees legislation related to elementary, secondary and higher education. Mayer also will serve as the new vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Mayer holds a juris doctor degree from the UMKC School of Law. He also has been active with the Delta Center Advisory Board.

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Gov. Matt Blunt signs SB389 at UMSL. Photo credit: Matthew Hill.
Gov. Matt Blunt signs SB389 at UMSL. Photo credit: Matthew Hill.
Governor signs omnibus higher education bill at UMSL

Gov. Matt Blunt signed the omnibus higher education bill SB389 during a ceremony at the Millennium Student Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis on Wednesday, June 6. The University of Missouri will receive $67.9 million in capital funds from the legislation, including $28.5 for Benton-Stadler Hall at UMSL. UMSL Chancellor Tom George was among those who attended the signing ceremony. George praised the governor and the General Assembly for focusing on public higher education. In addition to the capital improvements funding, the legislation also includes tuition restraint language and provides additional funds for need-based financial aid and a future increase in the Bright Flight merit-based scholarship.

UMR Chancellor Jack Carney, Rep. Jason Smith, Rep. Bob May and Walt Vandelicht, Alumni Alliance chair.
UMR Chancellor Jack Carney, Rep. Jason Smith, Rep. Bob May and Walt Vandelicht, Alumni Alliance chair.
Alumni Alliance meets at UMR

The Alliance of Alumni Associations and University Extension held their summer meeting on the University of Missouri-Rolla campus on Friday and Saturday, June 22-23.  Two Rolla-area members of the House of Representatives, Rep. Bob May (R-Rolla) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem), attended the dinner hosted by the MSM-UMR Alumni Association. May and Smith played instrumental roles in securing the $15 million appropriation for the new Mechanical Engineering Building on the Rolla campus that was part of the funding provided by Gov. Blunt’s Lewis and Clark Initiative. Several other area members of the General Assembly will be honored at a later date. The Alliance also heard a presentation from Dr. Michael Ouart, vice provost for extension, on the extension programs in all of Missouri’s 114 counties, and from UMR Chancellor Jack Carney, who gave an update on campus plans and the campus’ recently approved name change to the Missouri University of Science and Technology, effective Jan. 1, 2008.

icon question markLegislator profile
Gary Nodler
Sen. Gary Nodler

Partnerships, collaboration and unity are themes frequently heard in the higher education community, and they are the main priorities for Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), who became chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee this month after former Sen. Chuck Gross (R-St. Charles) resigned to take another position outside of state government. [Read more…]

icon question markFederal update
Higher education budget approved by General Assembly

Last week U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings told members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, chaired by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), that she would not issue proposed accreditation regulations for higher education “at this time.” This followed actions taken by both the House and Senate appropriations committees that included language in their FY08 funding bills to prohibit the Department of Education from promulgating or implementing new regulations on accreditation. Earlier this year, Spellings released the Department of Education’s new proposals for regulatory changes for the accreditation process for higher education institutions.

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