February 27, 2015

State update:

State auditor, gubernatorial candidate dead at 54


(Photo credit: Office of the State Auditor)

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, who won a second term in November 2014 and recently announced his candidacy for governor, was pronounced dead February 26 of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Schweich leaves behind a wife and two children.

This tragic news will have a major impact on activities in Jefferson City over the next few days. The University of Missouri System sends its heartfelt condolences to the Schweich family. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

Select House budget committee begins work on spending bills

Members of the House Select Committee on Budget, chaired by Rep. Tom Flanigan (R-Carthage), are prepared to mark up and complete the committee’s version of the state spending bills next week. HB3 will include the sections related to funding for higher education.

The UM System is seeking an increase in core performance funding, as well as $10 million in funds to continue the expansion of the MU School of Medicine to establish a clinical campus in Springfield. Neither priority was included in the first committee substitute for the bill released this week. Committee members will introduce amendments to revise funding during markup next week.

Appropriations committee reviews maintenance and repair priorities

The Senate Appropriations Committee convened on February 25 to quickly review a set of maintenance and repair projects for higher education institutions that would be funded out of proceeds from revenue bonds approved by lawmakers last year. The projects were included in SCR9, passed by the Senate earlier in the session, but will need to be incorporated into a House appropriations bill to be approved. The Senate hearing simply reviewed the list of projects and the committee took no action.

The $200 million allocation is being divided among the public higher education institutions in proportion to the share of operating funds in the budget. For UM, the renovations to be included are Schrenk Hall at Missouri S&T ($12 million in bonds); Stewart Hall at MU ($12.5 million in bonds); Spencer Chemistry and Biological Sciences at UMKC ($18.3 million in bonds); and Benton Hall at UMSL ($13.6 million in bonds). The $38.5 million Lafferre project at MU, already under way, was also part of the plan.

More than 450 supporters turn out for Legislative Day 2015

Legislative Day 2015

University supporters from all four campuses and MU Extension convened in Jefferson City on February 25 to encourage support for UM System priorities as part of Legislative Day sponsored by the Alliance of Alumni Associations of the University of Missouri and Extension. Participants visited legislators, attended a rally, viewed displays in the Rotunda highlighting university research and expertise in STEM and other fields, and heard from a variety of lawmakers and leaders during an afternoon panel.

Jim Foil, alliance chairman, served as emcee for the program and introduced the award recipients from each campus and Extension. MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl Schrader, UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, and UMSL Chancellor Tom George also participated in the day and jointly met with legislative leaders. Five individuals received Presidential Citations for their commitment to the university and higher education. To see details on the award winners, click here.

Alumni participants from Missouri S&T met for a luncheon outside of the office of Senator Dan Brown (R-Rolla). Participants from UMKC met for lunch outside the office of Senator Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City). MU and Extension participants hosted a breakfast in the rotunda.


Above, from left: UM System Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Research and Economic Development Hank Foley, UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, House Speaker John Diehl (R-Town and Country), Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader, MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, and UMSL Chancellor Thomas George (Photo courtesy of Wally Pfeffer)

schrader dempsey loftin

Above, from left: Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader, Senate President Pro-Tem Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles), and MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin

Leo Hank Pearce

Above, from left: UM System Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Research and Economic Development Hank Foley, UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, and Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrenburg)

UMSL alumni and leaders host legislative reception

Leaders, alumni, donors and supporters of the University of Missouri-St. Louis gathered in Jefferson City on February 24, the eve of Legislative Day, to meet with legislators and encourage support. Senators and Representatives were able to view images of 50-50 match projects and learn more about the campus while visiting with Chancellor Tom George and other leaders.


Above, from left: Betty Van Uum, Rep. Karla May (D-St. Louis), Rep. Sharon Pace (D-St. Louis), and UMSL Chancellor Thomas George

Citrus bowl champion Tigers recognized before Senate, House

Citrus bowl champion Tigers recognized before Senate, House

Representatives of the Mizzou Tiger football team along with Coach Gary Pinkel came to Jefferson City on February 24 to be recognized before the House and Senate and autograph posters, footballs and other items for legislators, staff and the public. The team also had a chance to tour the Governor’s office and meet with Governor Nixon.

Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) provided a resolution in the Senate honoring the team for its successful 2014 season and bowl victory. In the House, the Boone County delegation led by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-Columbia) provided similar recognition and Coach Pinkel was invited to speak before each chamber.

MU Football Coach Gary Pinkel (right) presents Lt. Governor Peter Kinder with a signed MU Football

Above: MU Football Coach Gary Pinkel (right) presents Lt. Governor Peter Kinder with a signed MU Football (Photo Credit: Senate Communications)

MU Football Coach Gary Pinkel (right) presents Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) with a signed MU Football

Above: MU Football Coach Gary Pinkel (right) presents Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) with a signed MU Football (Photo Credit: Senate Communications)

MU Football Coach Gary Pinkel (left) addresses the Missouri House of Representatives with Speaker of the House John Diehl

Above: MU Football Coach Gary Pinkel (left) addresses the Missouri House of Representatives with Speaker of the House John Diehl (R-Town and Country) (Photo Credit: House Communications)

The MU Football team signs autographs in the House Lounge

Above: The MU Football team signs autographs in the House Lounge

Springfield, MU leaders make rounds on MU School of Medicine expansion

Representatives from the University of Missouri, Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Missouri State University, CoxHealth and Mercy made the rounds to legislative leaders on February 25 to encourage support for an expansion of MU’s School of Medicine to establish a clinical campus in Springfield. The $10 million annual appropriation required for continued expansion was withheld by the Governor in FY15 and partially released earlier this month. University leaders have said the continued expansion is not likely to happen if the full appropriation is not included in the FY16 budget.

The southwest Missouri area is seeking help with a physician shortage, and the expansion would provide a clinical experience for MU School of Medicine students and create a pipeline of physicians for the two major hospital organization serving that area of the state. Weldon Webb, associate dean of the MU School of Medicine, is leading the university’s efforts to establish the center.

The delegation also encouraged support for a new occupational therapy program for Missouri State University which requires a $1.5 million annual appropriation to establish. The group met with representatives of the Governor’s office, Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), House Budget Chairman Tom Flanigan, and other legislative leaders.

Schaefer with people

Above, from left: Missouri State President Cliff Smart, MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, State Senator Kurt Schaefer, and Associate Dean Weldon Webb

Legislator Profile: Representative Rocky Miller (R-Lake Ozark)

It is not often that engineers go on to public service, but in the case of Rep. Rocky Miller (R-Lake Ozark), the connection between his career and legislative role helps him promote the importance of education and also has given him tools to problem solve in both arenas. Miller graduated from the Missouri University of Science and Technology with a degree in civil engineering, and went on to work as an engineer with Miller Companies, Engineering, and Environmental Services.

“Education, in general, has meant a lot to me and my family. In particular to my time at Mizzou and Missouri S&T, I am very appreciative of learning how to problem solve,” he said. “As engineers, we pride ourselves in saying that we are complex problem solvers. However, it extends further beyond that-into government. Whether it is a technical profession or one within policy, possessing that quality in a collaborative setting is valuable.”

Public service as always been a part of Miller’s life. For thirteen years, he served on the School of the Osage school board, as well as the Missouri School Board Association. In 2012, Miller decided to run for state representative in order to give his community a larger voice in regards to water quality. He now chairs the committee on energy and the environment and also serves on the utilities committee. He also promotes the importance of higher education, the UM System, and STEM.

“One of the most important things, right now, is STEM attraction and retention,” he said. “There are going to be thousands of jobs, within STEM, in the next few years. First, we need to attract more students to those fields, while also making sure that they stay in Missouri after graduation. If we can succeed in doing that, the state is going to see tremendous growth in economic development.”

Rep. Rocky Miller

Rep. Rocky Miller

Federal update:

Senate panel considers higher education regulations report

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) held a hearing this week to discuss the recent report Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities: A Report from the Task Force on Government Regulation of Higher Education. In 2013 Senator Alexander and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) commissioned the report, with support from the American Council on Education (ACE), to identify burdensome federal regulations affecting institutions of higher education that could be streamlined or sunset, including institutional accreditation, campus crime rules, and verification of student eligibility for financial aid.

During the hearing Chairman Alexander said he would seek to reduce and streamline higher education regulations during the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee, said she was open to ways to improve the Department of Education negotiated rulemaking process, but is concerned in retaining transparency and protecting students and consumers. Chairman Alexander has announced his plans to bring a Higher Education Act to the Senate for a vote by the end of the year.

A copy of Chairman Alexander’s opening statement can be found here.
A full copy of the report can be found here.

Senator McCaskill Reintroduces the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA)

On February 26, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) reintroduced the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA) to strengthen campus accountability and services for students in the area of sexual assault. Similar to last year’s legislation, the bill was introduced with bipartisan support. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) is also a cosponsor on the legislation. The legislation includes new Clery reporting requirements for institutions of higher education; the creation of a required “campus climate survey” to measure sexual violence and harassment on campuses; guidance regarding the interplay between the Clery Act and Title IX requirements; enforceable fines for Title IX violations by institutions of higher education; required creation of confidential advisors on campuses; uniform processes for student disciplinary proceedings; and creation of a new grant program to support improvement of campus sexual assault programs on campuses.

Information on the legislation can be found here.

Keep up with key higher education legislation here.

Preview for next week’s update:

An overview of telemedicine legislation