Initial talks on merger concluded

UM and Northwest ironing out the details of their union.
Friday, January 30, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:17 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Northwest Missouri State University is one big step closer to becoming the fifth campus of the University of Missouri system.

On Thursday, the UM system Board of Curators approved a 15-point memorandum of understanding addressing some of the concerns related to bringing the Maryville school into the system. The UM system currently has four campuses — Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis.

The memorandum is a result of talks between the system and Northwest officials. Steve Lehmkuhle, UM vice president for academic affairs, said the 15 points are a “distillation” of the issues brought up. The memorandum approved by the curators says Northwest would be called University of Missouri-Northwest and would be led by a chancellor appointed by UM President Elson Floyd.

Floyd said this is a historic move because it will make Missouri the first state in the nation engaged in a merger of two public universities without the federal or state government asking for it. The last time the system added a campus was 1963.

Northwest will maintain lower fees

Other issues the memorandum addresses include educational fees, which are not going to rise to the current UM price of $194 per credit hour. Northwest students pay $161 per credit hour. The memorandum also says that the system cannot incorporate Northwest and then sell its assets.

Specific costs of the merger have not been identified yet, said Nikki Krawitz, UM vice president for finance and administration. The memorandum reads, “Each campus shall bear its own expenses.” Lehmkuhle said no obligations to cover specific costs have been made.

Northwest Board of Regents takes active role

Northwest, founded in 1905, is 90 miles north of Kansas City and enrolls more than 6,500 students. Its primary focus is undergraduate teaching. Its governing body, the Board of Regents, will become an advisory board after the merger is completed.

Before the merger proposal comes before the Missouri General Assembly for approval, the Northwest Board of Regents has to approve the current version of the memorandum, then hold a meeting with the UM system curators in mid-February.

UM spokesman Joe Moore said the matter will come before the legislature “when the time is right,” sometime after the curators-regents meeting.

Also at the meeting:

  • Floyd announced that the money for chancellor salary increases will come from fund-raising groups affiliated with their respective campuses. Floyd recently increased each chancellor’s salary to $250,000 . He said he would have a related announcement next week.
  • The curators decided to make an official proposal asking the legislature to approve a $190.4 million Life Sciences bond, which would bring a new biomedical facility to the MU campus.
  • “This is important for our future, the future of our state and the future of our university,” Floyd said.

    The bond includes six projects on the four system campuses, with $100 million going to MU. The money would be used toward the renovation of MU’s Engineering Building East and a Health Sciences Research Center. It could have an estimated impact of about $106 billion dollars on the state, Floyd said.

    - Missourian reporters Brenden Clawson and Megan Retka contributed to this report.


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