Southwest Missouri State University will get its desired name change only if legislators in both the Missouri House and Senate approve a $190.4-million bond for the University of Missouri system.
The Springfield school wants to change its name to Missouri State University to attract better students and faculty and private funding. Opponents in the UM system fear the change would take money and prestige from its four campuses.
This compromise ended a five-day filibuster by Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, the most ardent opponent of the name change. The Senate approved the name-change bill Wednesday morningby a 27-4 vote.
Funds earmarked for research
The compromise arranged Wednesday could get the system approval for a $190.4-million bond to be used to further research in life sciences.
Joe Moore, UM system spokesman, said the system is monitoring the process, but the decision is the hands of the legislature.
“The university has given its thoughts on both of those legislative issues,” Moore said.
Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau put the bond on the “fast track” by filing a bill Wednesday that included another proposal the university was looking forward to having approved. The other motion would allow MU to lease land to a developer to build a hotel and conference center. The money from the lease and private donations would fund the construction of a new performing arts center on the corner of College Avenue and Stadium Boulevard.
MU to build biomedical research facility
The $190.4-million bond would give MU more than $95 million to use for renovating the Engineering East building and the construction of a new biomedical research facility. The proposed Health Sciences Research Center is at the core of medical research at MU, said William Crist, dean of the medical school.
Because of its old laboratories and lack of research space, MU says it has a hard time attracting and maintaining quality researchers. It also has difficulty competing for research grants. Currently MU has 100,000 square feet of research space.
Maurice Manring, MU Health Care spokesman, said MU’s annual medical grants and funding expenditures are $25 million. Schools such as the University of Iowa and University of North Carolina receive about $100 million more a year than MU, Bill Folk, associate dean for research, has said.
The Health Sciences Research Center would have 250,000 square feet of lab space and it would be home to 72 medical researchers. Each of them would have a seven-person support staff, bringing the total number of new jobs to more than 500. There are currently more than 400 medical school faculty members.
The 13-story building would cost about $175 million — $75 million from the bond would be supplemented by private donations. James Coleman, MU vice provost for research, said he estimates that the external annual grant support would be more than $41 million, with the economic impact on the state estimated at more than $75 million in one year.
Nearly $21 million from the bond would be used to renovate the Engineering East building at MU.
The Associated Press and Missourian reporter Christie Smythe contributed to this report.