January 17, 2014

State News

President Wolfe meets with legislative leaders; state prepares for Governor’s budget address 

During the first full week of the 2014 legislative session, University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe came to Jefferson City this week to meet with legislative leaders and discuss University priorities.

President Wolfe met with Senate and House leaders during a round of meetings Wednesday, January 15. He discussed the University’s budget request for the next fiscal year, as well as the University’s request for 50-50 matching funds for seven capital improvement projects across the four campuses and our support for a larger bonding initiative for higher education.

Lawmakers are preparing to receive Governor Nixon’s budget plan for the coming fiscal year, which he will deliver during his annual State of the State and Budget Address scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 21.

Mizzou Alumni Association presents Geyer Awards to Deaton, Thomson

Chancellor Emeritus Brady Deaton (left) and State Rep. Mike Thomson (right) at the Geyer Award reception in Jefferson City on Monday, Jan. 13. Photo Courtesy of Bill Greenblatt.

The Mizzou Alumni Association hosted a legislative reception on Monday, January 13th in Jefferson City to present the Geyer Public Service Awards to State Representative Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), and Chancellor Emeritus Brady Deaton. Guests included state senators and representatives, alumni, and campus leaders.

Each year, the Association presents one award to an elected official and one award to a citizen to recognize work in support of higher education and the University of Missouri.  Thomson, who chairs the House Higher Education Committee, has been a key supporter of many higher education bills over the past seven years. These include proposals establishing a STEM initiative, equalizing awards for public and private Access Missouri students, and increasing Bright Flight scholarship awards.

Deaton retired as chancellor at MU last November after two decades of service in roles that included chancellor, provost and deputy chancellor. He was recognized for his leadership as the University experienced significant increases in enrollment, research grants and expenditures, patents and licenses, and fundraising.  He also led the campus’s move to the SEC conference.

Senate panel conducts hearing on funding allocation model for higher education

Last year, the Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE), representing all of the public four-year colleges and universities in Missouri, came together to agree on a funding allocation model for future state funding that reflects differing missions and costs of providing education.  On Wednesday, January 15, the Senate Education Committee heard HB 492, sponsored by Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) that uses the model for future funding distributions.

House Bill 492 distributes current core funding for institutions based on the new allocation model, but  ties new funding to a performance matrix so that institutions would receive additional dollars for meeting a set of performance goals.  The bill does not include any reference to public two-year institutions.  COPHE testified in support of the bill since it reflects the COPHE funding model agreed to last year.

On a related note, a similar allocation model was introduced this week in the House of Representatives but it also includes the two-year sector. That bill, HB 1390, was sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville).

Downsizing Government Committee hears from MU experts on energy, power management and public affairs

The House Downsizing Government Committee held several hearings this week to gather expertise on various ways to increase cost savings in state government.  Chaired by Rep. Paul Curtman (R-Pacific), the committee met with Dean Bart Wechsler of the MU Truman School of Public Affairs on Tuesday, January 14 for an overview of how public-private partnerships can help the state.

On Thursday, January 16, the committee heard from MU experts on energy management and building efficiencies. MU is home to the Midwest Energy Efficiency Research Consortium formed recently to bring together expertise from several areas to determine how to increase efficiencies in facilities and energy use.  Matt Belcher, Director of MU’s High Performance Buildings Research Center, presented an overview of how the University works with private groups to help small businesses be more efficient.  Gregg Coffin, superintendent for MU’s power plant, gave an overview of recent improvements in the power plant and use of biomass, solar, wind and other energy sources to reduce costs.  The Committee is looking for ways in which state costs for facilities and energy usage can be improved.

wechsler coffin
(Left) Bart Wechsler from MU’s Truman School testifies before the House Downsizing Committee. (Right) Gregg Coffin from MU’s Power Plant tells the House Downsizing Committee about MU’s experiences with a biomass boiler.
belcherMatt Belcher from MU discusses building efficiencies.

Bills introduced to enhance Bright Flight scholarship, launch new agriculture scholarship

Legislation to create an incentive for Bright Flight recipients to stay in Missouri after they graduate was introduced in the House of Representatives. House Bill 1308, introduced by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), would provide forgivable loans of up to $5,000 per year in addition to the current Bright Flight award for eligible students. If students remain in Missouri after graduation, a portion of their Bright Flight scholarship loan would be forgiven each year.

Governor Nixon has announced his plans to fund a similar program as part of his budget address which will take place January 21.

Rep. Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany) , also introduced a forgivable loan program bill this week that is tailored toward agriculture students. House Bill 1326 would establish the scholarship and includes a revenue source tied to the dairy industry in the state. That bill is scheduled for a hearing before a joint meeting of the House Agri-Business Committee and the House Agriculture Policy Committee on Tuesday, January 21.

Legislator Profile

Caleb Rowden hits the ground running as new legislator from Boone County

Rep. Caleb Rowden meets with UM System President Tim Wolfe this week in Jefferson City.

Representative Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) is just beginning his second legislative session in his first term in office, but he has quickly become a key part of the legislative process serving on the House Budget and House Higher Education Committees.

“Higher education has always played a vital role in the growth and prosperity of any state, and I see that being magnified in the years to come,” he said. “The marketplace is changing, the job market is evolving, and it will be important for higher education to have their finger on the pulse of the marketplace and be nimble enough to evolve and transform their institutions as needed. I am confident the University is well positioned in the ever changing global marketplace.”

Rowden, who had a successful career as a Christian musician and now has his own media and marketing firm, sees the University as a key asset to job creation and economic development. “There is no question in my mind that the University is not only the premier higher education institution in our state, and one of the best in the country, but also one of the biggest drivers of economic growth in our region and our state. The workforce development, job creation, and ancillary income in any number of areas makes it the most vital piece of our economic development strategy as a state. The University needs to continue to tout those successes and make sure folks in all corners of the state understand that fact.”

Rowden, who attended MU, still remembers his first day on campus. “I missed my first class on my first day on campus because I ran out of gas, missed the shuttle bus and tripped on a curb and fell on the ground,” he says. “That’s probably something I’ll never forget!”

Chancellor George testifies before House Committee

UMSL Chancellor Tom George (left) visits with Representative Lincoln Hough (right) at infrastructure hearing in St. Louis

The House Appropriations – Infrastructure and Job Creation committee, chaired by Rep. Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield), met on January 16 at Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis.  University of Missouri – St. Louis Chancellor Tom George testified on behalf of the University of Missouri System and the Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE) about the importance of bonding to fund capital projects at the state’s higher education institutions.  The committee is charged with reviewing capital priorities across the state and crafting a bonding proposal for the legislature to consider.

Chancellor George highlighted the projects on the four UM campuses: Benton-Stadler on the UMSL campus, Lafferre Hall at MU, the School of Medicine Renovation and Health Sciences building at UMKC, and the Chemical and Biological Science building at Missouri S&T.  He noted that capital construction and renovation is a critical issue for higher education and pointed out that it has been two decades since a state bonding issue was passed for higher education.

The Chancellor also took the opportunity to point out the UM System’s proposed projects for a 50/50 capital match through the state’s Higher Education Capital Fund.  This program allows institutions to raise 50 percent of a project’s cost through private sources and then request a 50 percent match from the state.  All of the University of Missouri campuses have at least one project proposed: a Free Enterprise Center at UMKC, the College of Business Administration building at UMSL, an Experimental Mine Building at Missouri S&T, Lafferre Hall at MU, an Applied Learning Center in the MU College of Business, a Fine Arts/Performing Arts building at MU, and a Teaching and Research Winery at MU’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources.

Information on UM’s priority capital projects can be found here:

Federal News

House, Senate pass FY14 federal funding bill, President expected to sign soon

Based on the two-year top-level budget agreement reached in December, House and Senate budget appropriators agreed on January 13 to HJR 59, which will fund the government through September 30th. House Resolution 3547, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014” passed the House by a vote of 359-67 on January 15. The Senate followed the House by agreeing to the funding measure by a final vote of 72-26 on January 16. The President is expected to sign the bill by Saturday afternoon. When signed into law, this will be the first time since 2011 that all funding bills were passed by Congress during a single fiscal year.

The funding measure contains $1.012 trillion in domestic discretionary spending for FY2014, which began on October 1, 2013. For higher education, the funding bill includes several funding highlights:

  • $29.9 billion – NIH Funding levels (~$1 billion more than FY13)
  • $7.2 billion – NSF Funding levels (~$287 million more than FY13)
  • $5,730 – New Pell Grant maximum award (increased by $85 over FY13)
  • $49 million increase to Federal Work Study program, $37 million increase to Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

For agricultural higher education priorities, the bill contains funding increases above those from sequestration:

  • Smith-Lever Formula Funds for Cooperative Extension: $300 million (~$28 million more than FY13)
  • Hatch Act Formula Funds for Experiment Stations: $243.7 million (~$25 million more than FY13)
  • AFRI Competitive Funds: $316.4 million ($40 million more than FY13)
  • SNAP-Ed Funding: Maintains funding at $401 million
  • Policy research center funding: $4 million in total funding for agriculture policy research grants and agreements

White House hosts summit on college opportunity

On January 16, the White House hosted a summit on access, affordability, and opportunity with higher education presidents and chancellors, nonprofit organizations, and businesses. MU Deputy Chancellor Mike Middleton attended the summit where the White House released a report on the challenges for low-income students when they apply and attend college.

The day-long event featured remarks from President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and senior administration officials. The White House also released a report of commitments around four broad areas: connecting students with the right college, increasing the number of low-income students who prepare for college, improving test preparation and college advising, and improving remedial courses. The report can be found here, and includes the University of Missouri’s commitments, which include expanding the Missouri College Advising Corps and Access 2 Success.

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