JEFFERSON CITY - Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, said Wednesday that the Missouri Board of Curators had "no idea" what impact firing Missouri's "well-liked" chancellor would have on the school's students and faculty when it made its decision behind closed doors last year.
Jacob said the board's action illustrates why the Senate Education Committee should pass a bill that would create a faculty member position on state university governing boards and allow that member and the student representative to sit on closed board meetings.
"They could have diffused a huge bomb that occured," Jacob said.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Ted Farnen, D-Mexico, has passed the House. It would not allow the student representative or faculty member to vote. Farnen said that he hoped the bill, introduced each year in the legislature, would gather more votes this year because it includes a provision that would allow either representative to be excluded from closed-door meetings by a unanimous vote by the governing board members.
At least one senator said he fears that either of the two representatives could leak confidential information.
"I don't understand why you want this," said Sen. John Russell, R-Lebanon.
"You can't turn the university over to a bunch of kids and faculty," he said to Jacob.
Christopher Benjamin, a representative of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, said having the two members attend closed meetings allows the curators to have feedback and answer questions.
"It's a common sense issue," Benjamin said.
The committee took no immediate action on the bill.