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Leading lawmakers deny legislative push for tenure review

November 18, 1999
By: Francie Krantz and Clayton Bellamy
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Three top education and budget lawmakers say they are unaware of any impending legislative push for post-tenure review within the University of Missouri system.

Last week, UM System President Manuel Pacheco announced his intention to institute such a policy, saying he wanted to do so before an outside body mandates it.

"What I am trying to do is head off some imposition and let us decide what is reasonable," Pacheco told the Columbia Daily-Tribune.

Rep. Dick Franklin, D-Independence, who chairs the House Budget Committee, said that during his 11 years in the legislature, he has never once heard of any lawmakers who advocate such a policy in Missouri.

"Even if anyone did draft post-tenure review legislation, I don't think it would have a chance of passing," Franklin said. "I don't think the legislature wants to get into the position of changing the tenure review policy at the University of Missouri."

Any outside imposition would have to come from the legislature, said Sen. Wayne Goode, D-St. Louis County. Goode, a lawmaker since 1962, chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"It would probably take a statutory change for the tenure review policy to go through, rather than an effort by the governor and other agencies," said Goode, who sponsored the legislation that created the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

However, he said the state Constitution may bar the general assembly or any other state body -- except the Board of Curators -- from mandating post-tenure review, because the Constitution gives the Board almost full authority over the university system.

Pacheco was not available for comment Thursday, but the university system's chief lobbyist acknowledged that the general assembly is not champing at the bit to mandate post-tenure review.

"There's no pressure specifically for post-tenure review in the legislature, but there is pressure for accountability," said the lobbyist, Jim Snider.

Even though the pressure cooker is not about to blow, some lawmakers are interested in the issue.

"At least three lawmakers have contacted the UM system to ask about national trends in post-tenure review," Snider said. "There is no overwhelming support for post-tenure review, but there is some. The issue is more centered on quality of teaching."

Rep. Ted Farnen, D-Mexico, who chairs the House committee on higher education, said he has not seen an organized movement in the legislature to push the topic forward.

"That issue is always in the background, but has never been in the forefront," Farnen said. "I can't recall there ever being any legislation filed that has been sent to my committee at least."