JEFFERSON CITY — A deal is in the works to trade $200 million in bond proposals for the name of Missouri State University.
Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, filibustered the bill that would have changed the name of Southwest Missouri State University to Missouri State University last session. He suggested the trade-off on bond proposals for the UM system to Sen. Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, Tuesday during a hearing on the name-change bill.
“If I’m hearing that for changing the name we get $200 million, I’m thinking that’s not such a bad deal,” Jacob said.
But Jacob was quick to add he does not support the university name change.
“I still think the name change is bad public policy,” he said.
Kinder said he supports both the name change and the bond proposal, whether they are voted on together or separately. But it’s not a done deal. Kinder said they would need legal advice on whether the combination is possible. He questioned whether the subject matter is related enough.
Also, as it’s now configured, the issues reside in two different types of legislative vehicles — one changing law, the other giving legislative authorization for bonds. Even if the issues can be combined, Kinder said the combined bill could encounter “practical problems in the legislature.”
Jacob said the change will result in fights over resources between the UM system and Missouri State University.
“The one thing I do not like about competition, particularly when it comes to education, is competition always produces one outcome — a winner and a loser. And in education, I don’t think we can afford a loser,” he said.
Missouri attorney Tom Strong, a graduate of both SMSU and MU, said the name change would likely bring additional money to higher education in the state. He mentioned Texas State University’s recent change from Southwest Texas State University and the extra donations the university received from proud alumni after the name change.
Dr. Bobby Patton, president of Central Missouri State University, said the name change could cause CMSU to lose students. Dee Hudson, president-elect of CMSU’s board of governors, said her university qualifies to be called Missouri State University as much as SMSU does. The only advantage SMSU has is more students, she said.
Other testimony in support of the bill recognized SMSU student support for the name change. Job creation for the Springfield area and increased retention of Missouri students were some of the benefits cited.
The bill would also expand the university’s governing board to include 10 members, one from each congressional district and one nonvoting student member.