MU and Northwest Missouri scrap ambitious merger plan

Changes in Mo. General Assembly contributed to the schools’ decision.
Sunday, December 12, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:27 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bittersweet reality set in Friday for Northwest Missouri State University when the proposed merger of the school into the University of Missouri system was officially terminated.

President Dean Hubbard of Northwest Missouri and President Elson Floyd of the UM system met in Kansas City on Thursday and decided to focus their attention on the financial aspect of their institutions, the Associated Press said Friday.

“We believed it was the right thing to do and we worked hard on it, but we have to be realistic,” Hubbard said.

Joe Moore, spokesman for the UM system said the election of new members of the legislature contributed to the decision to stop pursuing the merger.

“Last year we had a very ambitious agenda, and now with a new governor-elect and several new members of the general assembly, we feel it is important that our goals for our respective universities are clear,” Moore said. “This year Floyd and Hubbard will focus on the financial health of their institutions.”

According to the AP, Northwest Missouri proposed the merger to the UM system in 2003. It would have been the first major addition to the system since 1963.

Besides bringing more attention to the area, Northwest Missouri also would have gained doctorate programs, academic resources and more options for students. Presently, only undergraduate programs are offered at the school.

For the UM system, the merger would have been an opportunity to reach a new section of the state.

“The UM system and Northwest Missouri have a unique relationship that existed before we began to seek the merger,” Moore said. “This relationship has only become stronger.”

The UM system will continue to offer assistance where it can to bolster academic programs as well as regional economic development, Moore said. At this point, however, any plans for a future merger are nonexistent.

Northwest Missouri to be new home for bio-tech company

Despite not being granted the merger into the University of Missouri system, Northwest Missouri State University will become a vital part of another pairing.

A Nov. 18 news release from California-based bio-pharmaceutical company Ventria Bioscience announced the collaboration to make a Northwest Missouri center for plant-based pharmaceuticals. This means Ventria will relocate its headquarters, research and processing facilities and field production from Sacramento to Missouri.

Ventria uses genetically modified crops to create pharmaceuticals and will be producing 70 percent of them in Missouri.

“We will provide the support and resources to help them refine their products,” Northwest Missouri President Dean Hubbard said. “Students will have the opportunity to work side by side with some of the top plant-made pharmaceutical scientists in the world.”

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