Sept. 26, 2008

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Legislative Update

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University president, chancellors meet with congressional delegation

University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee and chancellors from all four campuses traveled to Washington, D.C. this month to meet with members of Congress, their staffs and University of Missouri System alumni. During the course of three days, Forsee and the chancellors met with the entire Missouri delegation, including alumni Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Congressmen Russ Carnahan (D), Sam Graves (R) and Ike Skelton (D), who all showed their support for the university.

It was a busy week on Capitol Hill as legislators worked to create a Continuing Resolution to extend funding of federal programs until after the 2008 election. U.S. Reps. Lacy Clay (D), who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, and Jo Ann Emerson (R), who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, were able to meet with the president and chancellors between votes in the Capitol’s Rayburn Room.

Forsee also was able to meet with Congressman Ruben Hinojosa of Texas, who serves as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness to discuss the recently enacted Higher Education Opportunity Act and access to student loans.

CBHE approves operating increase request, Caring for Missourians proposal

The Coordinating Board for Higher Education approved an operating budget increase recommendation of 4.4 percent for higher education institutions on Sept. 11, representing the third year of a three-year legislative commitment to increase state funding. The board also requested an additional 3 percent to begin to address Missouri’s ranking of 47th in the nation in per capita funding for higher education. The coordinating board recommends budget levels to the governor and the General Assembly as part of the appropriations process each year.

The board also included in its recommendation a $39.8 million request for Caring for Missourians to address the need for more health care professionals in the state, which, if funded, would produce an additional 916 graduates. The University of Missouri campuses would receive a majority of the funding due to the large number of medical, dental, nursing, optometry and allied health programs across the state.

The CBHE also recommended support for maintenance and repair funding for the university to help it catch up on deferred projects across the state. The board requested $86.4 million to address urgent deferred maintenance projects and will submit to the governor and the General Assembly the list of each institution’s top priorities for capital improvements. The board is also forming a working group to identify potential new funding sources that would meet ongoing critical capital improvement needs.

More information about the coordinating board’s actions can be found online here.

Gubernatorial candidates debate at MU

The four candidates for Missouri governor participated in the first of several debates Sept. 11 as part of the MU School of Journalism's centennial celebration. The debate was sponsored by the Missouri Press Association.

The major party candidates have outlined detailed plans for improving higher education in the state, which were discussed as part of the debate. Democratic candidate Jay Nixon has announced the Missouri Promise program, which would increase support for the A+ scholarship program to provide additional funds for the first two years for students who attend a community college. The program then provides full tuition for students who graduate from a community college and transfer to a public four-year institution to complete a bachelor's degree. Missouri Promise would require $61 million in new funding.

Republican candidate Kenny Hulshof has provided a plan to strengthen higher education that includes consistent increases in operating funding support from the state at inflation plus 2 percent, additional scholarship support for the Access program, matching funds for a program to attract the best math and science professors and researchers, and accountability standards.

University president meets with Senate, House legislators to review higher education needs

Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), who is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, visited Columbia Sept. 12 to meet with University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee and toured several facilities to see examples of maintenance and repair needs at MU.

Forsee then met with Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff), who is chair of the House Higher Education Committee, on Sept. 19 to review major issues coming up in the legislative session. Later that afternoon, Forsee, Kingery and Department of Higher Education Deputy Commissioner Paul Wagner were featured speakers at a meeting of the University of Missouri System Alumni Alliance. Topics included the need for stable operating funding support; the Caring for Missourians initiative to provide resources to increase the number of health care graduates; the need for faculty compensation improvements; and maintenance and repair.

For more photos, click here.

Blunt attends journalism institute dedication

Gov. Matt Blunt visited the University of Missouri campus Sept. 12 to help dedicate the new Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. Located at the Missouri School of Journalism, the institute is housed in 50,000 square feet of new and remodeled space on the historic Francis Quadrangle. Its initiatives and programs are aimed at improving journalism in the service of democracy, and its new facilities will enable journalists, scholars and industry leaders to collaborate and connect with citizens.

The institute was founded in 2004 with an initial grant of $31 million from The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named.

Legislators attend Ellis Fischel gala

The 12th annual gala to benefit the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center was held Aug. 23 at the Lake of the Ozarks. Reps. Bill Deeken (R-Jefferson City), Judy Baker (D-Columbia) and Ed Robb (R-Columbia) and Rep.-Elect Stephen Webber (D-Columbia) attended the event. The gala raised more than $140,000, which brings the grand total to $1 million over the past 12 years. The 2008 funds will benefit cancer research by directing funds toward the purchase of instruments necessary for cancer genetics research and clinical trials.

Northwest Missouri lawmakers attend Hundley-Whaley field day

Farmers gathered Aug. 27 to learn the latest from researchers at MU’s Hundley-Whaley research center in Albany, Mo. Among those in attendance were Congressman Sam Graves (R) and Reps. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), John Quinn (R-Chillicothe) and Jim Whorton (D-Trenton).

Click here for more photos.

General Assembly holds Veto Session

The Missouri legislature convened Sept. 10th for its annual veto session, during which legislators may make a motion to override the governor’s veto of a bill or budget item. Sen. Chuck Graham (D-Columbia) made a motion to override Gov. Blunt’s veto of SB 873, which would have provided for a voting student curator on the University of Missouri Board of Curators if Missouri loses a congressional district based on the 2010 census. The motion failed by a 16-17 vote. It would have required 23 votes in order to move on for an override motion in the House. The General Assembly adjourned its veto session without any other attempts to override vetoes.

Ike Skelton receives Geyer Award

Congressman Ike Skelton (D) received the Geyer Award for Public Service to Higher Education on Sept. 19 in Columbia. He was presented the award by MU Alumni Association President Craig Lalumandier (center) and MU Chancellor Brady Deaton (left).

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