UM testifies before House Appropriations Committee
Leaders from the state’s public colleges and universities appeared before the House Appropriations – Education committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe), on January 28 and 29. Tom Richards, Interim Vice President for Finance, testified on behalf of the University of Missouri System (the testimony can be found here). Among his major points were the efficiencies and cost controls UM implemented over the last few years, including the fact that the University’s administrative costs are among the lowest of public institutions nationally. Benchmarked against the peer group median, the University is spending $37 million less on administrative costs across the system.
Vice President Richards also highlighted UM’s efforts to increase funding for areas that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, otherwise known as the STEM areas. He discussed the potential for increased investment in these areas, should the Governor’s recommended three percent funding increase for STEM initiatives be approved by the General Assembly.
Next week, Chairman Lair’s committee will review the Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education budget requests, before submitting its recommendations to the full Budget committee.
University leaders visit lawmakers to promote priorities
University of Missouri System leaders visited Jefferson City this week to encourage support for UM priorities including the operating budget and capital improvement projects. On January 27, MU Interim Chancellor Steve Owens visited with legislative leaders, including Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles), Chair of the Senate Appropriations committee, Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), and Chair of the House Budget committee, Rep. Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood).
Hank Foley, UM Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, visited the state Capitol on January 28 and met with legislative leaders including Sen. Schaefer, Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), House Speaker Pro Tem Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg), and Rep. Stream.
University of Missouri – Kansas City Chancellor Leo Morton and University of Missouri – St. Louis Chancellor Tom George visited the capital on January 29 to meet with several legislators including Senators Dempsey, Schaefer and Mike Parson (R-Bolivar), as well as House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka), House Majority Floor Leader John Diehl (R-Town and Country), Rep. Stream, and several other Kansas City- and St. Louis-area elected officials.
Bonding Resolution introduced in the House
Missouri voters could consider a $1.2 billion bond issue on the November 2014 ballot if lawmakers pass a resolution introduced this week in the House to support higher education and other state infrastructure needs. Representative Caleb Jones (R-California) introduced House Joint Resolution 73 on January 30. If passed, the resolution would provide $600 million in funds for top priority higher education capital projects, including $480 million for public four-year institutions. The resolution would also provide funding for the Fulton State Hospital, state Capitol building improvements, state parks, and several other projects.
Similar resolutions have been introduced over the past several sessions and have been overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives.
For the University of Missouri System, the funding would support the top priority projects on each campus. These include:
- $55.9 million for Lafferre Hall in MU’s College of Engineering;
- $48.5 million for the School of Medicine renovation and Health Sciences Building Phase II at UMKC;
- $62.8 million for Benton and Stadler Hall renovations at UMSL; and
- $28.5 million for the Chemistry and Biological Science building renovation at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
House panel considers bill to increase scholarship funding
Increasing the buying power of the state’s Academic Scholarship Program, otherwise known as Bright Flight, is the goal of HB1308, heard January 28 before the House Higher Education Committee. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), would provide a $5,000 “boost” for Bright Flight recipients who receive scores in the top three percent on the ACT or SAT test. The “boost” is a forgivable loan and would be provided in addition to the underlying Bright Flight award. Students may renew the boost for up to four years or $20,000, but would have to repay the amount if they do not remain in the state after graduation.
Several University of Missouri administrators and students testified in support of the bill, including MU Admissions Director Barbara Rupp and MU Financial Aid Director Nick Prewitt. The Associated Students of the University of Missouri and the president of the Missouri Student Association also testified in support of the bill.
UMSL hosts legislative reception
University of Missouri – St. Louis Chancellor Tom George and Co-Chair of the Chancellor’s Council Advocacy Committee Tom Minogue hosted area legislators for a reception on January 26. Attendees included Sen. Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis) and Representatives Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), Kathie Conway (R-St. Charles), Sharon Pace (D-Northwoods), Tommie Pierson (D-St. Louis), Margo McNeil (D-Florissant), Jeff Roorda (D-Barnhart), Jeanne Kirkton (D-Webster Groves) and representatives from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) and Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) office and Congressman Lacy Clay’s office (D-1).
The group discussed funding for capital projects, including UMSL’s number one priority Benton and Stadler Hall, and its 50/50 capital match project in the College of Business. Chancellor George also highlighted the need for the final equity funding adjustment of $1.9 million for UMSL.
Representative Jill Schupp
Representative Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) is in her third term, after being elected in 2008. Currently serving on the House Higher Education and House Budget committees, Schupp sees the value of higher education for Missouri’s citizens.
“Higher education presents a unique opportunity for young people to delve deeply into their preferred areas of study with other students who have similar interests. This chance to work at high levels in a particular discipline fosters creativity and collaboration.” Schupp said.
Schupp recognizes the significant effect the University of Missouri has on personal and economic growth in the state. “As the academic environment most closely linked to many students’ first jobs or careers, future economic development and growth are dependent on the strength and quality of the University’s educational mission and success,” she said. “The University is in a unique position to enable job creation, placement of qualified workers, and expansion of businesses as they succeed.”
Schupp, who received her bachelor’s degree from MU and her teaching certification from UMSL, reflects fondly on her experience as a student at MU. “When I served as an R.A. in Schurz Hall…the wonderful “girls” on the fourth floor and I decided to host a “Mr. Hatch” pageant with the guys in Hatch Hall serving as contestants. On a more serious note, I also really enjoyed serving for two semesters as a T.A. in Community Health. What an opportunity to teach and interact with students at the college level!”
As the 2014 legislative session continues, Schupp will contribute her experience and knowledge to the House Higher Education and Budget committees.
The Boone County Chapter of the Mizzou Alumni Association hosted its annual legislative forum on January 30 at Harpo’s in Columbia. Several area legislators discussed higher education priorities before the crowd. From left, Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Missouri Higher Education Commissioner David Russell, State Rep. Caleb Jones (R-California), Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia), Boone County Chapter President Wally Pfeffer, Rep. Stephen Webber (D-Columbia), Rep. John Wright (D-Rocheport), and M. Dianne Drainer, legislative liaison and advocacy director at MU.
From left: Secretary of State Jason Kander, Rep. Michael Butler (D-St. Louis), incoming MU Chancellor Bowen Loftin, Rep. Karla May (D-St. Louis), Rep. Tommy Pierson (D- St. Louis) at the MU Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on January 29.
From left: UMSL Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM) Vice President Cameron Roark, Rep. Sharon Pace (D-Northwoods), and UMSL ASUM Campus President Kevin Carpenter at “Lunch with a Legislator”, hosted by ASUM on January 17.
President includes research, higher education in State of the Union
President Barack Obama gave his sixth State of the Union address on January 28. During his speech, the President discussed the importance of overturning previous sequestration cuts to research agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. He also discussed the importance of access to higher education and job training for low-income students and noted his higher education summit in mid-January. The full text of the 2014 State of the Union can be found here.
House passes Farm Bill, Senate set to follow
Nearly a year and a half after the most recent Farm Bill expired, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the conference committee report for HR 2642 by a vote of 251-166. The bill contains major victories for agriculture programs in its five-year reauthorization, including flat or increasing authorization levels of funding for agriculture research programs. Other higher education-related items of interest include the educational nutrition program, which receives level funding authorization at $401 million. More broadly, the bill saves approximately $23 billion over the next ten years, when compared to the previous Farm Bill. The food stamp program, also known as SNAP, received a one percent cut in funding, however, a portion of the SNAP program savings will be spent on pilot projects to improve job training opportunities for SNAP recipients. The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the bill early next week and send it to President Obama to sign into law.