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Bill to prohibit University of Missouri President from occupying campus chancellor position heard

March 02, 2004
By: Gaurav Ghose
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1101

JEFFERSON CITY - Two members of the Senate Education Committee voiced support for a bill to prohibit the president of the University of Missouri system from occupying the position of a chancellor of an individual campus.

The bill was heard Tuesday by the committee.

Last year, University President Elson Floyd had raised the idea of consolidating his position with that of the Columbia campus chancellor.

With a tight budget and yearly cuts, Floyd said that a consolidation would bring gains in cost savings after Chancellor Richard Wallace's retirement in August.

Legislation to block any such consolidation is sponsored by Sen. Sarah Steelman, R-Rolla.

"It is not good for the University of Missouri, Rolla or any of the other campuses," Steelman told the Education Committee.

"Every campus on the university system should be treated differently. The president presides over all of these campuses and often times has to be the arbiter among the campuses because they are all competing for funds. They are all competing for programs. Each one of them are unique in themselves...If the chancellor and the President was the same person as proposed there would create problems for each of the individual campuses."

Voicing support for Steelman's bill were the two senators from St. Louis County whose districts cover the St. Louis campus of the university.

"We don't want to be relegated to a super community college," said Sen. Rita Days, D-St. Louis County.

Sen. Wayne Goode, D-Normandy, said that the proposal of consolidation was not good for management.

It is a quirk of legislative redistricting that gives UMSL two senators. After Goode's election to the 13th district in 2000, redistricting moved UMSL into the 14th district to which Days was elected in 2002.

Not all on the committee was sympathetic to the president-chancellor ban.

"My sense of this is if the chancellors of the University of Missouri system that are charged with governing that system think that is a good idea, we ought to do it," said Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit,

"This is one more instance where the legislature is meddling in university matters because of our frustration with Dr. Floyd and I am not sure whether it is really any of our business."

Joe Moore, UM System spokesman, said the system has not taken any official position on the legislation.

"Dr. Floyd has been speaking with Sen. Steelman and other state leaders to answer any concerns regarding a possible consolidation," Moore said.

Moore said Floyd is continuing to study the possibility of the consolidation of the UM system and MU administrations and as of this time he has not announced any decision.

The Senate Education Committee chairman said the committee would consider the bill next week.