Newest curator appointee says UM should be more affordable

Sunday, December 31, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:29 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

The newest appointee to the University of Missouri Board of Curators was watching the Sun Bowl on his sun porch Friday as his son and daughter played in the backyard.

“They’re both getting the Missouri Tiger experience at a young age,” said Kansas City resident Warren Erdman, the latest appointee to the board.

Gus, 5, had on his Tiger jersey, his father said, and Audrey, 2, “is a Tiger cheerleader today.”

Though he could not celebrate an MU victory, Erdman still had much to be happy about, not the least of which was his prospective new position within the UM system. Gov. Matt Blunt’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Missouri Senate.

“It’s a very big honor to be appointed,” Erdman said. “I take the responsibility very seriously.”

Erdman, 48, who describes himself as a good listener, would replace curators chairwoman Angela Bennett, whose term expires Monday. He would represent the 5th Congressional District.

Erdman said he’d be “an open-minded curator ... who represents the interests of multiple stakeholders and provides representation on behalf of the entire state.”

UM spokesman Scott Charton praised Erdman. “He’s a fine man and a great civic leader in Kansas City. We look forward to working with him at the University of Missouri.”

Erdman said he hopes to address the rising cost of tuition. “I have a niece who may not be able to attend the university because of economic issues, so I’m very concerned about access to the university for Missouri families. I think it’s important for students from families of modest means to be able to attend the university.”

An increase in state appropriations for higher education would help, Erdman said.

Blunt said in a news release that “Erdman’s service to our state and Kansas City will be a great asset as he works to strengthen the University of Missouri system. Warren will make a great addition to the Board of Curators.”

Contacted for elaboration, Blunt spokeswoman Jessica Robinson said, “the governor’s quote speaks for itself.”

Erdman has a bachelor’s degree from Westminster College. “My area of emphasis was in economics and political science,” he said.

After graduating, he worked for then-Gov. Kit Bond.

“I was the young fellow who traveled with the governor as he traveled around the state,” Erdman said.

Erdman stayed with Bond’s office from 1981 to 1984. A brief stint at the MU law school followed before he began working for Gov. John Ashcroft in 1985.

Erdman took up campaign management late that same year when he moved to Bond’s U.S. Senate campaign team. After a successful run for office, the senator made Erdman his chief of staff.

Erdman is now senior vice president of corporate affairs for Kansas City Southern, a position he has held since 1997. KCS is the holding company for three major railroads.

Erdman was previously co-chairman of the Missouri State Government Review Commission, which he said “provided the people of Missouri an open dialogue on how Missouri state government could operate better.”

Additionally, Erdman is a member of the University of Missouri-Kansas City trustees, chairman of the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City and a member of the board of directors of Bank Midwest, N.A., of Kansas City. He is active in numerous civic associations in Kansas City.

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