Two legislative committees took testimony this week from Presidents and administrative representatives of the two- and four-year higher education institutions. On February 16, the House Appropriations – Education Committee, chaired by Representative Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe), heard from University of Missouri Interim President Steve Owens. . Next week, the committee will compile and vote on their recommendations for House Bill 3, the Higher Education Appropriations bill. Recommendations will then be submitted to the Chairman of the House Budget committee.
On February 17th, the Senate Appropriations committee, chaired by Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) took comments from Interim President Owens. Interim President Owens’ testimony can be found here , and the presentation from the hearings can be found here . Others presenting included representatives from the Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE) and the Department of Higher Education.
Bills related to curator selection move through committees
Two similar bills designed to solve the dilemma of curator selections in light of the state losing one of its nine congressional districts were considered before education panels this week.
HB 174  is sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville) who is chair of the House Higher Education Committee. The bill would allow for “at least one but no more than two” curators from each congressional district, which would maintain the current constitutionally mandated 9 member board. Statutes now prohibit more than one member from the same congressional district. The bill was passed unanimously on February 15 after an earlier amendment to make one of the nine members a voting student was defeated 8-4. Thomson has reported the bill out of committee and it is expected to be debated on the floor in the coming weeks.
SB 163  is sponsored by Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) who is chair of the Senate Education Committee. This bill was heard on February 16 and is identical to HB 174. The committee is expected to consider the bill next week in executive session.
The Board of Curators passed a resolution  in January supporting these legislative changes.
Bill to encourage science, technology, engineering and math support heard before Senate committee
A bill to establish a state matching program for faculty, equipment, programs and scholarships in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields was considered February 16 before the Senate Education Committee. SB 164 , sponsored by Senator David Pearce would establish the program within the Department of Higher Education and create a fund for future state investment that would match corporate or private donations for the programs.
Chris Weisbrook, Faculty Fellow in Academic Affairs for the UM System, testified in support of the bill on behalf of the University. Others voicing support for the measure included the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers, University of Central Missouri, the St. Louis Community Colleges, and the Missouri State Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
An identical bill, HB 352 , has been introduced in the House and is awaiting committee assignment.
University of Missouri Legislative Caucus has inaugural meeting
More than 75 legislators and other supporters participated in the first meeting of the University of Missouri Legislative Caucus Thursday, February 17, at the Capitol. The Caucus, co-chaired by Senate President Pro-Tem Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) and House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) was formed to provide an opportunity to inform interested legislators about the University of Missouri System and its impact on the state.
Senator Mayer, who has a law degree from UMKC, talked about how the University’s programs and services provide benefits to the citizens he and others represent. Speaker Tilley, who has a degree from the School of Optometry at UMSL, noted how many legislators have connections with the University’s campuses and that the Caucus would help them learn more about the people and programs at UM. Interim President Steve Owens addressed the Caucus, reviewing some of the historical milestones of the University and reflecting on its mission. He encouraged the lawmakers to partner with the University to help it succeed, even in difficult economic times.
The featured guest of the Caucus was MU Head Basketball Coach Mike Anderson. Coach Anderson signed autographs, posed for photos with legislators and staff, and addressed the group about the importance of teamwork. Coach Anderson also had the opportunity to speak before the House of Representatives and the Senate later in the morning.
Although the Caucus primarily features legislators who are graduates of one of the UM campuses, it also includes lawmakers who are parents of students at the University, or who have one of the campuses in or near their legislative district. Nearly 90 members of the House and Senate have formally joined the Caucus as of February 15.
From left to right: Deputy MU Chancellor Mike Middleton, Interim President Steve Owens, House Speaker Steven Tilley, MU Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Anderson, and Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer.
Treasurer Zweifel Visits University of Missouri-St. Louis to announce MOST changeshere .
Mel Carnahan Public Service Award announced by Truman School of Public Affairs
The Truman School of Public Affairs  at the University of Missouri announced a new award on February 11th to honor those who are committed to public service. The award is named for former Missouri governor Mel Carnahan, who was elected posthumously to the U.S. Senate in 2000.
Mel Carnahan Public Service Award recipients will be chosen by a committee of Missouri residents involved in public service. A graduate fellowship will also be awarded to one or more MU students who demonstrate a strong commitment to public service. The fellowship recipient must be a student enrolled in the Masters of Public Affairs program in the Truman School. Fellows will receive a $1,000 stipend and a tuition waiver for continued study at MU.
Candidates may be nominated by students, faculty, individuals or organizations. Nominees are considered based on their commitment and contributions to public service. Fellows are chosen by a committee of Truman School faculty and students. The first Carnahan Public Service Award will be made in the Spring of 2011. The award committee will accept nominations through the end of March.