MU chancellor meets with concerned student parents, shares his own experience

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 | 9:08 p.m. CDT; updated 10:34 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 15, 2014

COLUMBIA — MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and student parents concerned about the future of an on-campus day care facility found common ground in a private meeting Tuesday, but no decision has been made regarding where the center will reopen.

The parents — who created a petition asking that the day care, the Student Parent Center, be relocated elsewhere on campus — had collected 1,174 signatures, which they showed to Loftin at the meeting. But after Loftin shared his own experience as a student raising two children, some parents believed he understood their position.

The Student Parent Center is located in University Village Apartments. The chancellor announced on March 12 that University Village would shut down on June 30 and would be demolished shortly thereafter and that the day care would be shut down and demolished, as well.

Kimberly Bodner; her husband, Christopher Engelhardt; Naomi Clark; and Danielle Walker met with Loftin in Jesse Hall on Tuesday afternoon. Bodner and Clark are graduate students, Engelhardt is a post-doctoral fellow, and Walker is an undergraduate who will enter graduate school in the fall. The group had been asking for a meeting with the chancellor since mid-March.

Clark said she wanted to offer the chancellor a perspective on the costs of not having child care available on campus. She said it seemed like the chancellor wanted to make a decision in the next few weeks.

Walker said her hope for the meeting was for the university to take a stand in its support of student parents. She said she knows students who have left because of a lack of resources for students with children and students who are pregnant and weighing their options for school.

Loftin shared his own experience being a married graduate student and having two children.

Walker and Clark said hearing that the chancellor was once in a similar situation made them feel as though he understood their situation.

No decision has been made on whether the day care will be reopened in a new location or if a new facility will be built. Loftin said he tasked Gary Ward, interim vice chancellor for administrative services, with gathering cost estimates on both options. Loftin said he is still waiting on a report.

"I am committed to making a quick decision after receiving this analysis from my staff," he said.

Loftin said he might have a decision by early May.

Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.

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Jack Hamm April 16, 2014 | 7:37 a.m.

Their children are their responsibility; the University should not be subsidizing their day care.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 16, 2014 | 8:02 a.m.

@ Jack Hamm:

Agreed, and if I were still paying taxes in Missouri I'd be p****d.

(Report Comment)

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