Senate panel hears bill to bar Floyd’s consolidation plan

Wednesday, March 3, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:21 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Two members of the Senate Education Committee voiced support for a bill to prohibit the president of the University of Missouri system from occupying the position of a chancellor of an individual campus.

The bill was heard Tuesday by the committee.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Sarah Steelman, R-Rolla, is an effort to block a proposal by UM system President Elson Floyd that would consolidate his position with that of the MU chancellor.

With a tight budget and yearly cuts, Floyd suggested last year that a consolidation would bring cost savings after current MU Chancellor Richard Wallace’s retirement in August.

Legislation to block any such consolidation is sponsored by Sen. Sarah Steelman, R-Rolla, who told the Education Committee, “It is not good for the University of Missouri-Rolla or any of the other campuses.”

“Every campus in the university system should be treated differently,” she said. “The president presides over all of these campuses and oftentimes has to be the arbiter among the campuses because they are all competing for funds. They are all competing for programs. Each one of them are unique in themselves. If the chancellor and the president were the same person as proposed, it would create problems for each of the individual campuses.”

Voicing support for Steelman’s bill were the two senators from St. Louis County whose districts cover UM-St. Louis.

“We don’t want to be relegated to a super community college,” said Sen. Rita Days, D-St. Louis County.

It is a quirk of legislative redistricting that gives UM-St. Louis two senators. After Sen. Wayne Goode, D-Normandy, was elected in the 13th District in 2000, redistricting moved the campus into the 14th District, in which Days was elected in 2002.

Not all on the committee favored the president-chancellor ban.

“My sense of this is, if the chancellors of the University of Missouri system that are charged with governing that system think that is a good idea, we ought to do it,” said Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit. “This is one more instance where the legislature is meddling in university matters because of our frustration with Dr. Floyd, and I am not sure whether it is really any of our business.”

Joe Moore, UM spokesman, said it had not taken any official position on the legislation.

The Senate Education Committee chairman said the committee would consider the bill next week.

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