Catching on & up

Thursday, April 12, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:08 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
Recently appointed interim UM System President Gordon Lamb, left, speaks with Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, on Tuesday during a meet-and-greet session. Lamb’s term began Monday, after Elson Floyd’s term officially ended.

The new interim president of the University of Missouri System on Wednesday received a lesson about the General Assembly from several state legislators, including Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia.

“I brought him up to speed on where we’re at on the MOHELA debacle,” he said, referring to the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.

Graham said talking to interim President Gordon Lamb about the governor’s plan to sell $335 million of MOHELA’s assets was important because the issue is expected to be debated on the Senate floor today.

“I don’t think the lobbying team informed him of some of the things that are important in the General Assembly now,” Graham said.

Though Graham said he didn’t think Lamb was as knowledgeable about the General Assembly as he should be, he said he thinks Lamb has the background and ability to lead the university and have a good relationship with the General Assembly.

Lamb spent both Tuesday and Wednesday “meeting with as many legislators as possible,” Graham said.

Gary Nodler, the Senate Education Committee chairman, said he met with Lamb on Tuesday and described him as a “nice enough guy.” Nodler, R-Joplin, said they had a brief meeting where they talked about budget issues, but did not go into details about what they spoke about.

Nodler is also sponsoring a wide-spanning higher education bill that includes the MOHELA plan.

Nodler, who said he has had a very good working relationship with outgoing UM System President Elson Floyd, said he doesn’t expect Lamb to “fill Elson Floyd’s shoes,” nor would he expect a new, permanent president to do that.

“I would expect that everyone would be different,” he said. “Their job is to advance and protect the university.”

The UM System Board of Curators announced Friday that Lamb, senior vice president of EFL Associates, will serve as interim UM System president. Floyd officially ended his term at the university on Monday. He will remain as a consultant to the system until the end of April.

Since then, UM System spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said Lamb has been introducing himself to people he will work with while he is president.

“A great portion of the university’s funding comes from the state, so it’s important that they have discussions,” Hollingshead said.

Hollingshead, however, said she was not sure if Lamb will continue serving as interim president through the next legislative session.

“It depends on how long the Board of Curators spends finding a new president,” she said. “I’m not sure if it will take quite a year, but the curators will be very thorough.”

Lamb was not available for comment on Wednesday.

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