Bill challenges Floyd's chancellor bid

Tuesday, January 27, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:37 p.m. CDT, Saturday, June 21, 2008

[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting to correct errors.]

A Rolla senator wants to make sure UM system President Elson Floyd doesn’t take over the Columbia campus. A bill filed last week before the Missouri Senate would prevent the current president from becoming chancellor of any of the four campuses in the system — Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis.

Sen. Sarah Steelman, R-Rolla, said the bill was introduced in response to Floyd’s proposal to serve as chancellor of MU. The university has not taken an official position yet, said Joe Moore, UM system spokesman.

Merging the MU chancellor and UM system president positions was first brought up last summer, when Floyd called for drastic measures to save money. The current chancellor, Richard Wallace, will retire at the end of this school year.

At the last curators meeting in December, Floyd was expected to announce his decision but instead said there is still work to be done and delayed a formal announcement.

He said the chancellor position would not be cut, because it needs to be independent from that of the president. Still, Floyd said, one man could hold both jobs.

Steelman said she is concerned other campuses may not get equal treatment.

“I think it’s important that they have the head of the campus and the head of the university system as separate positions,” Steelman said.

She added that although Floyd might not favor the Columbia campus, it’s better not to set a precedent. Her bill is sponsored by legislators from the other three cities with campuses in the system . They echo her concerns that a concentration of power would put Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis at a disadvantage. Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, said the legislature should not interfere with the authority of the system’s Board of Curators.

The agenda for the curators meeting Thursday and Friday in Columbia doesn’t list consolidation. However, Moore said Floyd is still exploring consolidation possibilities.

University officials would like to reduce duplication and “administrative redundancies” to achieve efficiency and save money. Speaking at a general meeting of MU faculty in December, Floyd said consolidation of administrative positions would save anywhere from $500,000 to $4.3 million each year.

If Floyd decides not to become chancellor, MU would have to start a search to fill the post.

Steelman also filed a bill a few weeks ago asking Floyd to disclose the names of private donors whose money would be used to pay chancellors’ salary increases.

Last year, Floyd decided to increase the salaries of chancellors to $250,000 a year. Moore said private funds have not been collected yet, and Floyd has made no decision on releasing names of potential donors.

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