Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon nominates two UM curators

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 | 6:01 p.m. CST; updated 9:30 a.m. CST, Thursday, January 27, 2011

COLUMBIA—Gov. Jay Nixon nominated two attorneys Wednesday to fill empty seats on the University of Missouri System Board of Curators.

Craig Van Matre is a Columbia resident, a graduate of the MU School of Law and president of the law firm Van Matre, Harrison, Hollis, Pitzer & Taylor.


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Donald Cupps serves as the attorney for the city of Cassville and the Barry County Development Authority.

Their appointments are subject to approval by the Missouri Senate.

Craig Van Matre

A veteran of the Air Force, Van Matre is a licensed pilot. He has served on the Coordinating Board for Higher Education since he was nominated byNixon in 2010. He will leave that position to serve as a curator.

"Craig Van Matre has long provided valuable counsel to leading citizens of mid-Missouri and is very well-respected in the legal, business and education communities," Nixon said in a news release.

Van Matre reflected on the retirement of Missouri University of Science and Technology Chancellor John Carney III, the imminent tuition increases and the future search for a new UM System president and said there will be "lots to do."

"The actual truth is (the nomination) comes with a degree of anxiety," he said.

Van Matre said his experience on the Coordinating Board for Higher Education and the Stephens College Board of Trustees have provided him with useful knowledge, but he still has a lot to learn.

"I need a little bit of time to learn things before I shoot my mouth off," Van Matre said. "It's an enormous institution — one with a long history. ... It's going to take me a while to get up to speed."

Van Matre was recently honored by the MU School of Law with its Citation of Merit award. Van Matre also has a post-graduate law degree in taxation from NYU's School of Law.

He has represented a number of developers in Columbia, including Stan Kroenke, Otto Maly and owners of The Tiger Hotel. He also has served as chairman of the community advisory committee to the Missouri Foundation for Health, as well as vice chairman of the Boone County Mental Health Board of Trustees.

Van Matre would replace Bo Fraser as curator.

"Bo has been a wonderful curator," Van Matre said. "I'm going to try to model my behavior on how he behaved. I think he did a wonderful job."

Van Matre's term will end Jan. 1, 2013.

Donald Cupps

Also a graduate of MU School of Law, Cupps is president of the law firm Ellis, Cupps and Cole in Cassville. Much of his work involves representing southwest Missouri farmers.

"His dedication to public education and community service and his experience in business and agricultural communities will serve the people of Missouri well on the Board of Curators," Nixon said in the news release.

Cupps, who would replace John Carnahan as curator, has a bachelor's degree from MU in agricultural economics. His parents, wife and brother are also also MU graduates.

He serves on the board of trustees for the Public School Retirement System of Missouri. He also has served on the boards of directors for the South Barry County Hospital District, the County Employee Retirement Fund and the Cassville Industrial Development Corporation.

Cupps's term will end Jan. 1, 2017.

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