University supporters gather at the Capitol for Legislative Day

Gov. Matt Blunt speaks to University supporters during the Legislative Day rally.

More than 600 University of Missouri alumni and supporters gathered at the State Capitol on Wednesday, March 5, for the 34th annual Legislative Day. University supporters visited legislators throughout the day and viewed economic development displays in the rotunda featuring each UM campus and Extension.

Gov. Matt Blunt was among the speakers at a morning rally, where he spoke of the importance of higher education. “Higher education is an investment and students who choose to attend a college or university in Missouri can be assured that they will receive a high-quality education that has a good return on their investment,” Blunt said.

University of Missouri President Gary D. Forsee encouraged supporters at the rally to share the University's legislative priorities and the story of Missouri´s public research institution with elected officials. Senate Appropriations Chair Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) and House Minority Floor Leader Paul LeVota (D-Independence) also spoke at the rally.

The evening before, the University of Missouri Alliance of Alumni Associations and Extension recognized six honorees with the 2008 Outstanding Alumni Service Awards at a reception and dinner in Jefferson City. [View photos from the awards dinner.]

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House Budget Committee considering higher education bill

The House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Allen Icet (R-Wildwood), is considering HB2003, the higher education appropriations bill for FY09. The bill currently before the committee differs in several significant aspects from Gov. Matt Blunt's recommendations. The governor recommended a 4.2 percent increase to the University´s core budget. HB2003 contains a 4.0 percent increase, which represents a $700,000 reduction from the governor´s recommendation. Preparing to Care, the initiative to educate health care professionals to address shortages in the state, was not included in the bill. The governor had recommended $13.4 million to fund the initiative, a collaboration between all of Missouri´s two- and four-year public institutions.

The bill also does not include the University´s priorities on increasing compensation for ranked faculty to bring levels up the medians of peer institutions. Also not included is funding for UMSL to address the equity gap.

Next week, the House Budget Committee will consider amendments to the bill before reporting it to the full House.

Help support the University's budget priorities

University of Missouri President Gary D. Forsee met with the chancellors and alumni association leaders from each campus earlier this week to discuss the budget situation. Forsee called on University supporters and groups like The Missouri 100 to promote the University´s budget priorities during this critical time in the General Assembly. For more information on the budget situation, including talking points on the University´s priorities and a sample letter to customize for elected officials, visit http://www.umsystem.edu/priorities.

Senate committee considers immigration measures

The Senate Pensions, Veterans´ Affairs and General Laws Committee considered several bills related to immigration during a hearing Wednesday, March 5. A committee substitute for SB858, sponsored by Sen. Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville), includes a section clarifying that higher education institutions will not enroll persons in the state illegally. The bill included some minor changes that had been suggested by the University of Missouri and other higher education institutions.

The committee also heard SB751, sponsored by Rep. Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau), which prohibits illegal aliens from receiving public benefits without appropriate documentation. The University provided testimony for informational purposes requesting that the bill clarify that international students may still apply for admission in order to receive proper documentation to come to the state to study, something that was not clear in the earlier version of the bill. Committee members indicated a willingness to work with higher education to improve the language of the bill so it does not create undue hardships on institutions or international students applying to come here to study. The committee took no action on the bill, but is expected to combine several immigration bills into one omnibus bill for consideration later this session.

House Higher Education Committee hears bill related to textbook costs

In an attempt to lower the cost of textbooks for students, a bill has been introduced by Rep. Jake Zimmerman (D-Olivette) that would require textbook publishers to provide cost information to faculty members when they are ordering textbooks so as to encourage them to think twice about expensive textbook packages. HB2048, the “Textbook Transparency Act,” was heard before the House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday, March 4. Students with the Associated Students of the University of Missouri testified in support of the bill, which requires publishers to make supplementary materials available separately when selling the materials bundled together. Institutions also are encouraged to have policies that allow students to use financial aid that has not been disbursed for tuition to cover textbook costs at campus bookstores. No action was taken on the measure.

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MU scientist Katti honored with Outstanding Missourian Award
Rep. Ed Robb (left) and Rep. Bryan Pratt (right) present Kattesh Katti with the Outstanding Missourian Award.
Rep. Ed Robb (left) and Rep. Bryan Pratt (right) present Kattesh Katti with the Outstanding Missourian Award.

Kattesh Katti, professor of radiology and physics and senior research scientist at the MU Research Reactor, was honored on Tuesday, March 4, with the Outstanding Missourian Award for his work in treating cancer. Katti recently discovered how to make gold nanoparticles using gold salts, soybeans and water - research that has garnered worldwide attention and could have applications in several disciplines. Rep. Ed Robb (R-Columbia) and House Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt (R-Blue Springs) recognized Katti with the award before the House of Representatives. The award is presented as “acknowledgment of the most accomplished citizens of the state of Missouri” for making an “outstanding contribution to the state or nation.”

College of Education at MU recognized for 140th anniversary
MU College of Education Dean Carolyn Herrington; Rep. Judy Baker; Dr. Deborah Carr, associate dean of academic programming and interim chair of the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology; and Dr. John Wedman, director of the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies.
MU College of Education Dean Carolyn Herrington; Rep. Judy Baker; Dr. Deborah Carr, associate dean of academic programming and interim chair of the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology; and Dr. John Wedman, director of the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies.

Rep. Judy Baker (D-Columbia) presented Dean Carolyn Herrington of the MU College of Education with a resolution on Wednesday, March 5, to celebrate the college´s 140th anniversary. The college kicked off its anniversary celebration during Ed Week, March 2 to March 8, which brings together education faculty and professionals to celebrate teaching and to discuss current issues and challenges in the field. MU was the first state university in the nation to establish a college for the development of future teachers in 1868, and it has since grown to include a network of more than 48,000 alumni spread across the state, the nation and the world.