Missouri 100 hosts legislative event

University of Missouri President Designate Gary Forsee speaks to legislators and community leaders at The Missouri 100 reception in Jefferson City.

Members of The Missouri 100, the presidential advisory group formed by University of Missouri Interim President Gordon Lamb, hosted a legislative reception at The Gallery in Jefferson City on Monday, Feb. 4. Members of the House and Senate attended the event, where they were introduced to president designate Gary Forsee and his wife, Sherry. Forsee spoke to the group about his vision for the University and how the University must continue to prepare to lead for the future. Additional speakers included Lamb, Missouri 100 co-chair Cynthia Brinkley and Board of Curators Chair Cheryl D. S. Walker.

Members of The Missouri 100 advise and assist the president in promoting the critical role of the University of Missouri System in our state’s future and its reputation around the world. The group held its inaugural meeting in fall 2007 and, more recently, hosted a reception in St. Louis last week.

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Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, UMKC Pharmacy and Nursing Building supplemental appropriations approved by House

The Missouri House of Representatives unanimously passed a capital bill with two University of Missouri projects this week. The University of Missouri’s supplemental budget request was approved with a vote of 151-to-0 on Thursday, Feb. 7. Included in the legislation is $31 million for Ellis Fischel Cancer Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia and $15 million for the Pharmacy and Nursing Building at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “The House’s quick action on these much-needed items is a testament to how well vetted the projects were last year,” said University of Missouri Interim President Gordon H. Lamb. “We anticipate that the Senate will treat this in a similarly timely manner.”

The House also passed HB2020, by a vote of 149-to-4, which appropriates $500,000 to the Missouri University of Science and Technology for the capital costs associated with the start of its cooperative engineering program, to begin next fall, with Missouri State University. Quick action to approve this bill also is anticipated.

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Rep. Allen Icet tours MU’s College of Engineering with Martin Walker, director of administrative services for the college.
Rep. Allen Icet tours MU's College of Engineering with Martin Walker, director of administrative services for the college.
House Budget Chair views MU engineering facilities

Rep. Allen Icet (R-Wildwood), who chairs the House Budget Committee, visited MU’s College of Engineering on Monday, Feb. 4, to learn more about the state’s engineering needs and to view the renovation and expansion of Lafferre Hall. The project is next in line for capital support for the Columbia campus and includes a $47.8 million request from the state. Dean Jim Thompson gave Icet an overview of the college and led a tour through the facilities, some of which date back 100 years.

Rep. Doug Ervin (R-Kearney) meets with his constituents Lisa Dangler, a pre-physical therapy student, and Maggie Allee, an occupational therapy graduate student.
Rep. Doug Ervin (R-Kearney) meets with his constituents Lisa Dangler, a pre-physical therapy student, and Maggie Allee, an occupational therapy graduate student.
MU Health Professions students meet with lawmakers

Students from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Health Professions visited the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 5. While meeting with lawmakers, they discussed legislative priorities for the upcoming year, including the Preparing to Care initiative, which would provide funding to train additional health care graduates in fields such as the allied health professions to deal with statewide shortages. Students also discussed why they chose the MU School of Health Professions and how they selected their respective majors.  

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Special elections for Missouri House

In special elections held Tuesday, Feb. 5, seats for the Missouri House of Representatives were filled by two Republicans and one Democrat. Republican Mark Parkinson won election to the 16th District, St. Charles County, for a seat previously held by Carl Bearden. In District 158, Cape Girardeau, Republican Mary Kasten won election to a seat vacated by Nathan Cooper. Michelle Kratky ran unopposed in District 65, St. Louis, to fill a seat that had been held by her husband, Fred Kratky.

Committee hears proposal to promote intellectual diversity

The House Higher Education Committee heard testimony on HB1315, sponsored by Rep. Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield) on Tuesday, Feb. 5. The bill would establish the Emily Brooker Higher Education Sunshine Act and require annual reports by institutions of steps they have taken to ensure intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas.  Cunningham introduced a similar measure last year in response to a case from Missouri State University where a social work student felt she was discriminated against by faculty due to her religious beliefs.

Cunningham emphasized that the goal is to make sure policies and procedures are in place so that students who have concerns about viewpoint discrimination in the classroom have a way of reporting them and having them reviewed. The bill requires that a report be provided to the General Assembly annually reviewing such policies and that information be communicated via web sites so that students know what to do if they have a compliant. Although the legislation includes a long list of examples that may be included in such a report, Cunningham told the committee she deliberately did not require specifics in the report to allow flexibility for each institution. She noted during testimony the work of the University of Missouri Board of Curators to review policies last fall and that the campuses have designated ombudsmen and established web sites so that University of Missouri students can register concerns. “They are doing exactly what I would hope all of our institutions would do,” she said.

A number of faculty and students testified in opposition to the legislation, citing concerns about legislators dictating policies in the classroom and raising questions about whether the bill could have the opposite impact of encouraging a diversity of viewpoints. Others argued that the institutions are already addressing the policy issue and there is no need for legislation in statute to require it. The committee took no action on the bill.

Immigration committee adopts new version of higher education bill related to illegal immigrants

A one-word clarification sought by the University of Missouri and other higher education institutions has been incorporated into HB1463, a bill to require that institutions certify they have not enrolled illegal aliens. The original version of the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone), required certification that institutions did not “admit” illegal aliens. Since institutions admit a much larger pool of students than they actually enroll, the original version would have resulted in a significant burden on institutions to check the citizenship of every applicant. The change to “enroll” was requested during testimony earlier in the session by Barbara Rupp, director of admissions at MU, since it is much easier to incorporate into the enrollment process institutions go through for students who actually show up to take classes. The bill was passed by the House Special Committee on Immigration on Wednesday, Feb. 6, and will now go to the full House for consideration. A similar proposal in the Senate has yet to be heard.

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U.S. House passes higher education reauthorization act

The U.S. House of Representatives approved HR4137 on Thursday, Feb. 7. The legislation reauthorizes the Higher Education Act for five years and aims to reduce conflicts of interest in the student loan programs. It also creates new grant programs for colleges and students, imposes new reporting requirements on colleges, and requires colleges to reveal more about their preferred lender lists, among other requirements.

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