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Columbia Missourian

UPDATE: Craig Van Matre is out as a UM System curator

By MISSOURIAN STAFF
February 2, 2012 | 1:02 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Craig Van Matre is disappointed that his run as curator for the University of Missouri System is over before it really got started.

As the UM System Board of Curators met in Kansas City, Van Matre's nomination by Gov. Jay Nixon went, at last, before the state Senate on Thursday morning.

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Shortly after noon, as several legislators objected to Van Matre's confirmation, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, withdrew the nomination.

"It's how I understood it would happen — that the filibuster could not be broken and, therefore, I was toast," a deflated Van Matre said a few minutes later in his Columbia law office.

Van Matre has been the board's interim representative for the district that includes Columbia and Boone County. Unless he is replaced soon, that district won't be represented on the board when it votes on proposed tuition increases. Those increases are being discussed at the meeting under way, and a vote is expected in the next few weeks.

The deadline for confirming Van Matre is this week. He said he had known for about a week that this was how his appointment would shake out. That was why he didn't attend the board meeting.

Nixon 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 Each of the first two times, Van Matre’s name was withdrawn before it could be voted on by the senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee. On Monday, the committee voted 8-1 to move Van Matre's appointment forward to the full Senate.

The dissenting vote came from Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles. He said Monday that 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.

That was again raised Thursday in the Senate debate. Finally, calling the proceedings "an insurmountable hill," Schaefer withdrew Van Matre's nomination.

That leaves two openings on the nine-member board, Van Matre's and that of Judith Haggard, who resigned recently. Pamela Henrickson of Jefferson City was confirmed last week.

Asked whether he would like to continue his involvement in the workings of the UM System, Van Matre said he didn't think the time was right to decide that.

"If being involved would hurt," he said, "I don't want to do that."

Van Matre has attended board meetings since his initial appointment. He called his opportunity to serve on the board an honor.

"It's an opportunity to do good work," he said.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Nixon said that during Van Matre's time on the board and throughout his professional career, he has served the University of Missouri and the state well. 

"Craig is an eminently qualified and dedicated public servant," the governor said, "and I appreciate his willingness to help move our state forward."