Full Senate to vote whether to confirm Van Matre as curator

Monday, January 30, 2012 | 8:29 p.m. CST; updated 1:19 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 1, 2012

*Although it had been expected, the UM System Board of Curators will not vote Friday on tuition increases. "I don't yet know the timeline for when that will happen," spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said. The curators will discuss the proposed increases when they meet Thursday and Friday at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. An earlier version of this story mischaracterized what the curators will do at the meeting regarding tuition.

JEFFERSON CITY — Columbia attorney Craig Van Matre is the closest he has been to being confirmed as a University of Missouri System curator.

The Gubernatorial Appointments Committee voted 8-1 Monday afternoon to move Van Matre to the full Senate for confirmation to the UM System Board of Curators.

Van Matre's confirmation could come to a vote as early as Tuesday, Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said.

If the Senate does not confirm Van Matre this week, or if the governor’s office withdraws his name for a third time, he will not be able to vote at Friday’s board meeting. In this case, the board will have only seven voting members. There are usually nine.

*At the meeting, the board plans to discuss tuition and fee increases for all four UM campuses.

Gov. Jay Nixon has appointed Van Matre as a curator three times: in January, June and October 2011. Each of the first two times, Van Matre’s name was withdrawn before it could be voted on by the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee.

Board of Curators Chairman David Bradley said last week that the board needs as many curators as possible for Friday's vote, especially after curator Judith Haggard stepped down Jan. 17.

"It is important for the board to have a full complement of curators to discuss critical issues coming up, like setting next year's tuition and how to cope with drastic cuts in state aid," Bradley said. "We hope the governor and state Senate work together to expedite the appointment and confirmation of new curators."

At Monday's committee meeting, Dempsey gave the lone vote against moving Van Matre's appointment to the full Senate.

Dempsey said his vote was influenced by a 2007 Columbia Daily Tribune editorial in which Van Matre criticized state Republicans' reaction to the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan.

Van Matre's editorial was forwarded to Dempsey's office. After reading it, Dempsey did a Google search on Van Matre for more information and talked to people he knew in the Columbia business community.

Dempsey said that from what he read, Van Matre seemed poorly informed and lacking in the interpersonal skills Dempsey would want a person in a leadership position to have.

"I want somebody in that position who's going to be a leader and bring people together," he said.

Dempsey does not plan to filibuster Van Matre's confirmation because as floor leader he likes to deal with issues, which means bringing them to a vote, he said.

State Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, said last week that he planned to filibuster Van Matre’s confirmation if it came before the full Senate. He added that other senators said they would do the same. He could not be reached for comment Monday about whether he still plans to filibuster.

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