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Lobbyist Money Help  

Bill would make SMSU a part of the UM System

January 30, 2003
By: Megan McCloskey
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY -The University of Missouri Curators would take over Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield under a measure introduced Thursday by Columbia's senator.

Democratic Sen. Ken Jacob's proposal comes in the same week that Republicans introduced a bill to rename SMSU as Missouri State University.

Last session a similar bill died after Jacob filibustered to prevent a vote.

Jacob said the cosmetic name change would only hurt both schools because of already tight resources.

"When you have competition there is always a winner and a loser," Jacob said, and the state can't afford to have a loser when it comes to education.

As the MU System stands now, each institution has its own mission and serves different educational needs. Jacob said a second state system would create duplication among programs offered.

Instead Jacob proposes assessing the needs for the Southwest region and coordinating them with the MU System.

However, Rep. Mark Wright, R-Springfield, who is sponsering the renaming bill in the House, said that SMSU is no longer a regional college. The school has a statewide mission, and it needs a name that reflects that mission, he said.

SMSU is not interested in becoming a part of the MU System.

"While Kansas City and St. Louis are desperately trying to get out of the system I don't know why we'd want to get in," said James Baker, assistant the SMSU President and lobbyist for the school.

Wright said that with Springfield as one of the state's fastest growing regions, SMSU's rate of growth will outpace the UM System.

The UM System has not discussed the possibility of including SMSU, said Joe Moore, manager of UM media relations.