Feb. 26, 2010

State relations

Higher education appropriations bill advances

The House Appropriations–Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), took amendments and voted out its version of the higher education appropriations bill, HB2003, on Feb 23. The committee maintained the agreement between public institutions and the governor for a 5.2 percent reduction to institutions’ core operating budgets in exchange for no tuition increases for in-state undergraduate students. The committee also approved two amendments to UM-related budget items, adding $1 million to MOREnet’s budget and $300,000 to the budget of the Missouri Kidney Program.

All other appropriations subcommittees reported their recommendations this week as well, with an estimated $700 million in program cuts recommended. While the consensus was a reluctance to propose such cuts, the committee also acknowledged the difficult budget situation for FY11 and the need for leaner budgets.

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering announced Feb. 25 that revenue collections for February were worse than expected. The percentage decrease is expected to be greater than the 22 percent reported for January, though final February numbers should be available within the week. The governor’s proposed budget was based on an expected $300 million in additional federal dollars, the receipt of which is now in question. All appropriations bills will be reviewed and modified by the House Budget Committee beginning next week.

Access Missouri proposals moving in both Senate and House

Bills that would equalize Access Missouri scholarship award levels for students at four-year public and private institutions continue to work through the legislative process.  SB784, sponsored by Sens. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), was passed Feb. 24 by the Senate Education Committee by a 6-3 vote.  In the House, HB1812, sponsored by Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff) is scheduled for a hearing before the House Higher Education Committee at 8 a.m. March 2.

Currently, students who qualify for the need-based scholarship and attend a private institution can receive up to $4,600 per year. Students who choose a public institution can receive up to $2,150, and community college students can receive $1,000. Both bills would leave current levels in place for four more years, then would adjust awards beginning in the 2014-2015 school year so that all four-year students received up to $2,850 and community college students received up to $1,250.

The Council on Public Higher Education, representing the University of Missouri System and all public four-year institutions in the state, has testified in support of the changes. Representatives of the Mizzou Alumni Association’s Legislative Network, Mizzou Parents Association and the Associated Students of the University of Missouri have also testified in support.

House Higher Education Committee passes two financial aid bills

Access Missouri recipients and military veterans would be impacted by two bills adopted by the House Higher Education Committee during an executive session Feb. 23.  HB1473, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville) would change the GPA required for renewal of Access Missouri scholarships for the freshman and sophomore years from a 2.5 to a 2.0. The University of Missouri was among several public institutions supporting the change, which would help students who struggle in the first few semesters and lose the scholarship. Last year, more than 600 Access recipients at University of Missouri campuses lost their award because they earned a GPA below 2.5 but above 2.0.

The committee also adopted HB1504, sponsored by Rep. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) that extends the Missouri Returning Heroes tuition waiver for combat veterans at public institutions to include those who served prior to Sept. 11, 2001.  Participants would still have to enroll in a higher education institution within 10 years of being discharged.

Lawmakers hear legislation, honor international students during International Student Day

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David Currey, left, director of international programs at MU, testifies before the Senate Rules Committee Feb. 23 in support of SCR31, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (right), (R-Warrensburg).

Hundreds of international college students from the University of Missouri System and other institutions across the state came to Jefferson City Feb. 24 to celebrate the value of the international experience in higher education. Students were introduced in the House and Senate and met with lawmakers to encourage support for higher education.

The senate also took up and passed SCR31 sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) that encourages colleges and universities to promote the importance and value of international students and educational experiences. David Currey of MU’s International Center brought students to testify in support of the resolution during a hearing before the Senate Rules Committee Feb. 23.  A similar resolution, HCR24, has been introduced in the House and will be heard March 2 before the House Higher Education Committee.

Senate committee advances bill aimed at attracting science and innovation companies

The Senate Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee passed an omnibus economic development bill that includes SB895, the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA), sponsored by Sen. Tom Dempsey (R-St. Peters). The MOSIRA bill would foster new science and innovation companies and devote a percentage of income taxes from life science industry employees to a fund to be used to attract high technology and high wage jobs to Missouri.

The committee substitute includes SB808, SB813, SB911, SB922, SB924 and SB 895, and was passed by a 7-1 committee vote. It is now slated for discussion on the senate floor.

Legislators recognize accomplishments of MU athletes

The Mizzou women’s softball team, women’s soccer team and a member of the wrestling team were recognized this week before the House and Senate for their accomplishments in recent seasons.

The Mizzou softball team won the Big 12 Championship in 2009, made a trip to the College Softball World Series, and was crowned NCAA regional and super regional champions. The Mizzou soccer team also won the Big 12 Conference Championship, and coach Bryan Blitz was named Big 12 Coach of the Year. MU wrestler Mark Ellis, a senior from Peculiar, Mo., won a national championship in the heavyweight class in 2009.

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The Mizzou softball team with Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) during a visit to the Capitol Feb. 22. For more photos, click here.

Physical therapy students visit Capitol

Physical therapy students from colleges and universities across the state visited Jefferson City Feb. 24 to encourage support for physical therapy education. Pictured is a group from the University of Missouri-Columbia who came to advocate in support of the university.

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Legislative Day March 2

Don’t forget to join friends, alumni and supporters of the University of Missouri for the 36th annual Legislative Day March 2 featuring University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee and Gov. Jay Nixon.

The Alliance of Alumni Associations and Extension will host its annual awards dinner at the DoubleTree Hotel in Jefferson City March 1. Honorees for outstanding alumni service include Gov. Jay Nixon; Sen. David Pearce; Cameron Lindsay from UMKC; Chris Nicastro from UMSL; Delbert Day from Missouri S&T; and Jim Snider.

New record set for candidate filing

The state of Missouri has set a new record for political candidates filing for office within a 24-hour period. At the end of Feb. 23, 417 candidates had filed to run in the August 2010 primary elections.

The most crowded list of candidates was for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Kit Bond. Nine Republicans, two Democrats, two Constitution Party candidates and one Libertarian had filed by the end of the day, bringing the total to 14 in that race.

Most candidates file on the first day in hopes of drawing a low lottery number, which determines their place on the ballot. Filing remains open until March 30.

Federal Update

Agriculture leaders visit with Missouri delegation on the Hill

MU representatives from the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, & Teaching (CARET) came to Capitol Hill this week to visit with members of the Missouri Congressional delegation about federal agriculture funding for FY2011. Attendees included representatives from MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; Nutrition and Forestry; and MU Extension. The group’s message about the significant impact MU has on Missouri’s agriculture and statewide economy was well received by the delegation.

Jobs, transportation, health care dominate federal discussions

The senate voted 70-28 this week to pass H.R. 2847, a $15 billion package that would give payroll tax relief for businesses that hire unemployed workers. The measure also would extend the Highway Trust Fund, the Build America bond program, and expense deductions for small businesses. The House passed a more expansive $154 billion measure in December 2009. The senate is already working on a second jobs package, which is expected to include one-year extensions of dozens of tax credits and also likely to include yearlong extensions of unemployment benefits, health insurance subsidies for laid-off workers and a six-month extension of additional Medicaid assistance to states. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Congressional leaders met at the White House with key administration officials to review the status of proposals to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

Feb. 19, 2010

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UM Vice President for Finance and Administration Nikki Krawitz testifies Feb. 16 before the House Appropriations-Education Committee on the FY11 operating budget.

Universities testify before House Appropriations Committee

The House Appropriations– Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), met Feb. 16 and 17 to take testimony from the state’s four-year public institutions. The committee requested that each institution address specific questions during their testimony, including whether or not salary increases were given, how the institution plans to handle the governor’s proposed 5.2 percent cut, and what preparations institutions are making for FY11 and FY12.

University of Missouri System Vice President for Finance and Administration Nikki Krawitz outlined a number of current cost containment strategies implemented by the university, including hiring freezes, supply chain management initiatives and requiring employees to contribute to the pension fund.

Next week, the committee will consider amendments to the appropriations bills for both higher education and elementary and secondary education. Bills will then move to the House Budget Committee for further consideration.

Senate committee hears bill to equalize Access Missouri scholarships

A bill to equalize the award levels for students at public and private institutions receiving the state’s need-based Access Missouri scholarship drew a full house Feb. 17 during a hearing before the Senate Education Committee.

SB784, sponsored by Sens. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), would place maximum award levels for public and private students at $2,850 beginning in the 2014-2015 school year so that current students are not impacted by the change. Currently, public students can receive up to $2,150 while private students can receive up to $4,600.

MU Chancellor Brady Deaton testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Council on Public Higher Education. Other institutions and groups testifying in support included Missouri State University, Missouri Southern State University, the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, the Mizzou Alumni Association Legislative Network, the Mizzou Flagship Council, and the MU Parent’s Association. Several students and student leaders also spoke in favor of the change, along with a representative of the governor’s office.

Opponents included Commissioner of Higher Education Robert Stein, who testified on behalf of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.  The CBHE voted to oppose the bill last week with a majority of members arguing that the current award structure was developed with input from all sectors and should be allowed to continue until the program sunsets in 2014. Several private school students and administrators also opposed the bill. The committee took no action.

House Higher Education Committee hears bill to expand military waiver

The Missouri Returning Heroes Program was adopted by the Legislature in 2008 to require public institutions of higher education to waive all but $50 per credit hour in tuition for veterans who had served in combat since Sept. 11, 2001. A bill to expand that waiver to all veterans who have served in combat, including those serving prior to 2001, was considered before the House Higher Education Committee Feb. 16.

HB1504, sponsored by Rep. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) would only impact a few additional combat veterans since there remains a 10-year window of eligibility from discharge. The bill also clarifies that students who have been home schooled should not be denied eligibility for public financial aid.  The committee took no action on the bill.

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Senator Bond and Doug Mertens hold a picture created for the Senator by John Mertens.

Bond Tours MU Thompson Center Honors Senator Bond

U.S. Sen. Kit Bond visited the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Feb.17.  The visit allowed the center and families to thank Bond for his help in securing $750,000 in the FY10 omnibus spending bill. The funds will assist the center with numerous structural improvements and the purchase of enhanced technology used to diagnose and treat autism. The funds will also help Thompson Center faculty serve more Missouri children and families while enhancing the center’s national reputation for high-quality research.

Senate holds hearing on MOSIRA legislation

Sen. Tom Dempsey (R-St. Peters) presented SB895 during a hearing before the Senate Jobs, Economic Development, and Local Government Committee on Feb. 17  The bill establishes the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act to create, attract and retain existing and new science and innovation companies. Under this legislation, a percentage of income taxes from life science industry employees would be deposited into a fund to be used to attract high technology and high wage jobs to Missouri.

At the hearing, numerous business and life science experts testified in support of the bill, including the chambers of commerce from Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield and the state chamber.  The supporters argued that many other states already have these incentives in place and they have proven to be a successful job growth strategy.  The governor held several press conferences around the state publicly endorsing the proposal in mid-December.

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UM student representative confirmed by Gubernatorial Appointments Committee

University of Missouri student Laura Confer appears before the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee Feb. 17 for her confirmation as student representative to the University of Missouri Board of Curators. Confer, a student at Missouri University of Science and Technology, was sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Glendale).

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Pat Conway, left, and Hope Whitehead

Two new House members sworn in

The Missouri House of Representatives welcomed two new members Feb. 17 as a result of special elections. Pat Conway (D-St. Joseph) was sworn in to replace Ed Wildberger; and  Hope Whitehead (D-St. Louis) was sworn in to replace Talibdin El-Amin.

Legislative Day planned for March 2

Make plans now to join friends, alumni and supporters of the University of Missouri for the 36th annual University of Missouri Legislative Day March 2. Highlights include Capitol visits beginning at 8 a.m., displays in the third floor rotunda featuring university programs, and a rally in the first floor rotunda at 9:30 a.m. Capitol visits will continue until 2 p.m.

This year, Legislative Day coincides with the governor’s math, engineering, technology and science (METS).

Feb. 12, 2010

Legislators prepare to hear legislation to equalize Access Missouri awards

Questions about the fairness of the Access Missouri need-based scholarship program have prompted two bills to be filed and led to an extensive discussion by the state’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education this week. At issue is the current policy to provide up to $4,600 for students attending private institutions and $2,150 to students attending public four-year institutions. Public institutions, including the University of Missouri System, have argued that students should receive equal awards regardless of whether they choose a public or private four-year school.

The Senate Education Committee will hear SB784 sponsored by Sens. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) Feb. 17. The bill would equalize award levels at $2,850 for all four-year students beginning in 2014. Current Access recipients would continue to receive the same award they currently receive. A similar bill, HB1812, has been filed in the House by Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff), and is expected to be referred soon to the House Higher Education Committee.

Several organizations are supporting the legislation, including the Council on Public Higher Education, the Mizzou Alumni Association, the Mizzou Flagship Council, the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, and several other student and alumni organizations across the state.
The Coordinating Board for Higher Education voted 5-1 to oppose the Access legislation.

Higher education committee hears bill to lower GPA requirement for Access renewal

Another Access Missouri-related bill had a hearing this week before the House Higher Education Committee. HB1473, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville) would reduce the GPA required for renewal of Access awards from 2.5 to 2.0 during the first two years of undergraduate education. Thomson argued that a large number of students have a GPA between 2.0 and 2.5 during the first year or two of school and the current policy cuts out their funding after one semester.

Missouri S&T Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Jay Goff testified in support of the legislation, saying 600 University of Missouri students lost their Access scholarships last year because of a GPA between 2.0 and 2.5. Most of those students would otherwise have continued with the scholarship, he said.

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From left, Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff), Chris Koukola, assistant to the chancellor for University Affairs at MU, and MU Chancellor Brady Deaton at the Geyer reception.

Mizzou Alumni Association honors Kingery, Koukola at Geyer Awards reception

The Mizzou Alumni Association presented 2009 Geyer Awards for Public Service to Higher Education to Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff) and Chris Koukola, assistant to the MU chancellor for University Affairs during a reception at the Governor’s Mansion Feb. 8. The award, in honor of Henry S. Geyer who sponsored the original legislation establishing the University of Missouri in 1839, is given each year to an elected official and a citizen for their support of the University of Missouri. Legislators and alumni leaders from across the state attended the reception.

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(From left) UMKC Pharmacy Department Chair Steven Stoner, UMKC awardee Dr. Cameron Lindsey, and UM System President Gary Forsee pose for pictures following the awards. For more photos, click here.

Four university faculty receive Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education

Four faculty members from the University of Missouri System received the 2010 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education during a luncheon Feb. 10 at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Faculty members at Missouri’s public four-year colleges and universities were recognized for their excellence in challenging and motivating Missouri students to reach their maximum potential.
UM recipients included Dr. John E. Adams, University of Missouri-Columbia; Dr. James A. Drallmeier, Missouri University of Science and Technology; Dr. Cameron Lindsey, University of Missouri-Kansas City; and Dr. James E. Henry, University of Missouri-St. Louis.

MU Extension annual report illustrates wide reach of land-grant mission

The 2009 MU Extension annual report illustrates Extension’s mission “to improve people’s lives, communities and the economy by providing relevant, responsive, and reliable research-based education.”

The report highlights several extension programs, including firefighter training, profitability techniques for Missouri farmers, life enrichment for senior citizens, technical assistance and research-based education for small business owners and managers, and science-based 4-H programs.

Legislative Day March 2

Make plans now to join friends, alumni and supporters of the University of Missouri for the 36th Annual University of Missouri Legislative Day scheduled for March 2. Highlights include capital visits beginning at 8 a.m., displays in the 3rd floor rotunda featuring university programs, and a rally in the 1st Floor Rotunda at 9:30 a.m. Visits continue through the rest of the day until 2 p.m.

This year, Legislative Day coincides with the governor’s math, engineering, technology and science (METS) week and campus displays on the 3rd floor rotunda will highlight these areas.

Visit http://umurl.us/lAj to register for Legislative Day or for more details.

Feb. 5, 2010

State relations

House and Senate hold higher education appropriations hearings

Both chambers held initial reviews of the governor’s proposed higher education budget this week. The Senate Appropriations committee, chaired by Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter), heard from Commissioner of Higher Education Robert Stein and Deputy Commissioner Paul Wagner Feb. 2. Dr. Carolyn Mahoney, current president of the Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE), spoke on behalf of the four-year public institutions and discussed the agreement between the governor and all public higher education institutions to keep tuition flat in exchange for a 5.2 percent reduction from their FY10 funding levels. Committee members clarified aspects of the agreement and discussed the exclusion of University of Missouri-related programs, such as University Hospital and MOREnet, from the agreement and what impact that will have on these programs.

The House Appropriations–Education committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), heard a similar presentation Feb. 3. Discussion included scholarship programs and possible federal and state changes that would affect the programs.

Both hearings marked the beginning of the legislature’s budget review process. All higher education institution presidents will have an opportunity to present to the House committee Feb. 16-17.  The committee will then submit its recommendations for review by the House Budget committee. All appropriations bills must be finally passed by May 7.

Additional FY10 expenditure restrictions announced

Based on a January report showing a 12.5 percent decline so far in the state’s general revenue collections, the state announced $73.8 million in additional expenditure restrictions to a variety of state programs. The February restrictions represent the third instance, after October and January, in which the state has withheld funding based on disappointing revenue reports.

The most recent announcement includes three University of Missouri–related programs, with 5 percent withheld from the budgets of MOREnet, the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon, and the Missouri Institute of Mental Health. The university’s operating budget has avoided restrictions so far due to the current year’s agreement to keep tuition flat for flat funding. However, all UM-related programs have had their budgets reduced by varying percentages. The following indicates the total percent withholding in FY10 for these programs:

  • University Hospitals and Clinics: 28%
  • Missouri Rehabilitation Center: 8%
  • Missouri Institute of Mental Health: 33%
  • Missouri Kidney Program: 18%
  • MOREnet: 48%
  • Missouri Telehealth Network: 26%
  • State Historical Society: 25%

Three House members win special elections

The state of Missouri held three special elections for House seats Feb. 2. In St. Louis City, the winner in the 57th District was Hope Whitehead (D) with 56 percent of the votes. This seat was formerly held by Rep. Talibdin El-Amin.

In St. Joseph, the seat in the 27th District was won by Pat Conway (D) with 65 percent of the votes. This seat was previously held by Rep. Ed Wildberger, who was appointed Buchanan County recorder of deeds by Gov. Nixon in November.

In the southwestern part of the state, Nita Jane Ayres (R) was elected with 78 percent of the vote. She will be filling the seat formerly held by Dennis Wood, who resigned to become Stone County commissioner.

Visit http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/ to learn more about the race outcomes.

MU Extension annual report illustrates wide reach of land-grant mission

The 2009 MU Extension annual report illustrates Extension’s mission “to improve people’s lives, communities and the economy by providing relevant, responsive, and reliable research-based education.”

The report highlights several extension programs, including firefighter training, profitability techniques for Missouri farmers, life enrichment for senior citizens, technical assistance and research-based education for small business owners and managers, and science-based 4-H programs.

Legislative Day March 2

Make plans now to join friends, alumni and supporters of the University of Missouri for the 36th Annual University of Missouri Legislative Day scheduled for March 2. Highlights include capital visits beginning at 8 a.m., displays in the 3rd floor rotunda featuring university programs, and a rally in the 1st Floor Rotunda at 9:30 a.m. Visits continue through the rest of the day until 2 p.m.

This year, Legislative Day coincides with the governor’s math, engineering, technology and science (METS) week and campus displays on the 3rd floor rotunda will highlight these areas.

Visit http://umurl.us/lAj to register for Legislative Day or for more details.

University News

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UM president delivers State of University address

University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee delivered his annual State of the University address during the board of curators meeting Jan. 29 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Forsee reflected on the many successes achieved by the university’s four campuses and system and took a closer look at the challenges facing public higher education in this economy.

A video of the State of the University address, as well as written remarks and accompanying slides, is available at http://www.umsystem.edu/sotu/.

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UM system unveils accountability measures

The University of Missouri System unveiled its comprehensive set of accountability measures at its board of curators meeting Jan. 29 in Kansas City. The Accountability Measurement System is a compilation of approximately 80 measures that encompass all facets of the university’s mission to help guide its efforts in the coming years. The measures will allow leaders, faculty and staff at all levels and on all campuses to translate their distinctive missions and aspirations into specific and measurable activities.

The measures include data for FY07-09, as well as targets for FY12, peer averages from other institutions and benchmark data from the top-performing peer institution in FY07.

To view the Accountability Measurement System overview, visit http://umurl.us/btz.

UM system announces plans to accelerate commercialization of intellectual property

Plans to invest up to $5 million to accelerate commercialization of intellectual property will help create high-value jobs in Missouri and provide funds to start-up companies, university officials said during a board of curators meeting Jan. 29 in Kansas City.

The Enterprise Investment Fund is designed to help fund start-up companies in Missouri that can move the discoveries of faculty from the laboratory to the marketplace, creating more high-quality jobs, building the state’s tax revenues and cultivating new revenue streams for the university.

Not all requirements have been finalized, but firms wishing to apply for funds must meet a series of minimum standards. Additional details are available at http://umurl.us/2pfPQ.

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The university had big dream — and bigger results

The University of Missouri System Office of Research and Economic Development had big dreams—and even bigger results—in 2009. The department’s major accomplishments, including increasing licensing revenue and options signed by the university by 18.5 percent and 55 percent respectively, awarding grants to faculty to bring their ideas closer to market, and reducing the amount of time to move technologies to market, is highlighted in its 2009 annual report. The report also includes cutting-edge research under way at each campus.

To view the report, visit http://umurl.us/2m7.