Nov. 7, 2008

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Obama visits the University of Missouri-Columbia

University of Missouri Board of Curators Chair Cheryl Walker and President-Elect Barack Obama meet when then Sen. Obama visited the University of Missouri-Columbia Oct. 30 for a rally sponsored by the Mizzou College Democrats. The rally was held on the Carnahan Quadrangle.

Missouri's next governor is a graduate with higher education plans

Governor-elect Jay Nixon (D) says restoring health care coverage and improving access to higher education for middle class families are among his top priorities as he prepares to be sworn in Jan. 12 in Jefferson City. Nixon, who has undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia, won with 58 percent of the vote in Tuesday's election.

Nixon has noted the need to provide more stable funding for public higher education. He will encourage legislative support for his "Missouri Promise" plan that would increase support for the state's A+ scholarship program so students who attend a community college and graduate with an associate degree can transfer to a public four-year institution and receive tuition from the state in the third and fourth year.

Three other statewide winners in Missouri also have University of Missouri degrees. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, (R), and Attorney General-elect Chris Koster, (D), both have degrees from MU. Clint Zweifel, a democrat elected as Missouri's next treasurer, has a degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Missourians send one new member to Congress

Voters in Missouri's 9th Congressional District in northeast Missouri elected Blaine Luetkemeyer, (R), to fill the vacancy created when Kenny Hulshof ran for governor. The remaining eight congressional incumbents were re-elected. Luetkemeyer had served in the Missouri House of Representatives for three terms beginning in 1998.

Republicans pick up three seats in Missouri Senate

The Republican Party bucked the national democratic trend and picked up three Senate seats Tuesday, including one where an incumbent was defeated. Republican Jim Lembke won the 1st Senate District in St. Louis by a narrow margin and will replace term-limited Democrat Harry Kennedy. In the 19th District in mid-Missouri, Republican challenger Kurt Schaefer of Columbia defeated incumbent Democrat Chuck Graham. And in the 31st Senate District in west central Missouri, current State Rep. David Pearce, a Republican from Warrensburg, won the seat currently held by Democrat Chris Koster.

Republicans now hold a 23-11 majority in the Senate. The majority party elected Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) as president pro-tem and Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) as majority floor leader on Nov. 6. Democrats selected Victor Callahan (D-Kansas City) as the minority leader in the Senate.

A total of 17 of Missouri's 34 senators have degrees from one of the University of Missouri's campuses, including 11 senators with MU degrees, three with UMKC degrees, two with UMSL degrees and one with degrees from both UMKC and MU.

Democrats net three seats in Missouri House

Two House incumbents were defeated in re-election bids Tuesday, where the Republicans continue to hold a majority with 89 seats to the Democrats' 74 seats. That represents an increase of three seats for the Democrats over last year. Rep. Vicki Schneider (R-O'Fallon) and Rep. Ed Robb (R-Columbia) were both defeated by Democratic challengers.

House members will prepare to welcome 45 freshman lawmakers to the chamber in January. Fifty-two House members have degrees from one of the University of Missouri's campuses, including 30 representatives with MU degrees, nine with UMKC degrees, 10 with UMSL degrees, 2 with Missouri S&T degrees, and one with both MU and UMKC degrees.

During caucus meetings Nov. 6 in Jefferson City, House Republicans selected Rep. Ron Richard (R-Joplin) as the next speaker. Rep. Bryan Pratt (R-Blue Springs), an MU grad, will continue as speaker pro-tem, and Steve Tilley (R-Perryville) will continue as majority floor leader. Democrats selected Rep. Paul LeVota (D-Kansas City) as minority leader in the House.

Lawmakers will convene in Jefferson City for the start of the 2009 legislative session on Jan. 7.

MU celebrates 100th anniversary as member of the Association of American Universities

State Sen. Chuck Graham (D-Columbia) presents a resolution to MU Chancellor Brady Deaton Oct. 27 commemorating the university's centennial membership in the Association of American Universities.

MU joined the AAU in 1908 and was one of the first public institutions invited for membership. The organization was founded in 1900 by 14 leading doctoral-level universities with a mission to focus on promoting top-tier research-intensive education programs. Today, 62 U.S. and Canadian institutions are members of the AAU, 34 of which are public institutions. MU is the only public university in Missouri that is a member.

Silvey and Talboy Debate at UMKC

Even though they were not running against each other in the November election, State Reps. Mike Talboy (D-Kansas City) and Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) squared off in a debate Oct. 9 on the UMKC campus sponsored by The Greater Kansas City Local Initiatives Support Corporation and members of the Northwest Missouri Policy Network. The purpose was to provide attendees a better understanding of both parties and an opportunity to become more informed about the issues.

Topics ranged from stem cell research to health care and taxes. On the topic of higher education, both representatives agreed college should be more affordable for Missouri students. Silvey said students should have better access to more low-income loans and advocated making MOHELA more stable. He also suggested capping student tuition and indicated that tuition should not grow faster than inflation.

Talboy advocated for sensible tuition rates, saying the state needs to show that higher education is a priority so the brightest students remain in the state. He suggested the university examine operating costs to save money.


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