A year after UM funding cuts, legislators reflect, talk future

1 year 1 week 2 days ago Wednesday, November 09 2016 Nov 9, 2016 Wednesday, November 09, 2016 7:52:00 PM CST November 09, 2016 in Top Stories
By: Max Diekneite, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - Protests rocked MU's campus in 2015, resulting in unprecedented funding cuts to the UM system in 2016. One year after protests garnered national and statewide criticism, one local lawmaker said he wants better results for the university in 2017. 

"I'm going to continue to be optimistic that we can move past it," said newly-elected State Senator Caleb Rowden, who was a state representative in fall 2015. "But, if we don't, we have to be ready to fight again."

But how did we get to this point? The frustration and anger toward the university grew as Concerned Student 1950 stole the national spotlight last fall. After many voiced their disapproval, lawmakers remembered when it counted, voting to cut funding for the UM system to the tune of $3.8 million. 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voted in favor of legislation that could have done even more damage. Rowden said he recalls a conversation he had with former UM President Tim Wolfe, where he realized just how damning last fall was to the university's relationship with lawmakers.  

"I never remember, and I had never spoken to anybody who remembered a time where beating up on the University of Missouri was a politically expedient thing to do. And I think that changed last year," Rowden said. 

Representative Steve Cookson, (R-Popular Bluff), said the university put lawmakers outside of Columbia in a tough spot. 

"When we would come back home to our different areas, the questions we were being asked were, 'What kind of craziness is going on up there? And, what are their demands? And they're demanding things?'" Cookson said. 

Cookson insisted race did not play a role in the funding cuts, despite the fact many of the lawmakers who voted in favor of the cuts hail from rural areas of the state. 

"Everyone has to act in an appropriate way, regardless of what your race is," Cookson said. 

Rowden said he does not believe the personal opinions held by Missouri lawmakers should ever dictate how much money the state's flagship university receives. 

"It's not the job of the Missouri legislature to run the University of Missouri. It is our job, as the biggest benefactor who writes a $450 million check to the university every year, to make sure that money is being used well," Rowden said.

Representative Kathie Conway (R-St. Charles), who holds a seat on Missouri's select budget committee, also voted for the UM funding cuts. She said she's still unsure about the direction of the UM system as a whole. 

"I’m not sure exactly what the university has done to correct the problem," Conway said in a statement. "My opinion is it starts at the top with the curators, and I feel they have been ineffective in leadership."

Despite being described as a champion of the university last fall, Rowden concedes there were some major issues. 

"You don't get to a position where you have a hunger strike going on in the middle of your campus, and your football team is striking, your grad students are upset for a different issue, you don't get to that place without some things being done the wrong way," Rowden said. 

Cookson said while he is optimistic about recent changes to the UM system, he and his colleagues need to see more before they will be convinced the university is headed in the right direction. 

"We're optimistic, but, we're also cautious, because in the last year, it seems like, they're making the news a lot, and not always in a positive way," Cookson said. 

Still, Rowden characterized last year's funding cuts as an unfair, bipartisan attack on one of the state's most valuable assets. 

"There were a few screaming matches last year," Rowden said. "It wasn't unclear what the motivation was. It was a pretty transparent kick in the teeth to the university at a time when that was the last thing they needed."

Rowden said he believes many of the people who came out so passionately against the university had been waiting for years, if not longer, for an opportunity to hurt MU. 

"It's no secret that there are folks from certain pockets of the state that just don't like the university. And they would love to see it brought down to a level of some of the other schools in the state," Rowden said. 

He said the mood is different heading into this years session, pointing to time as the key healing factor. 

"I don't think that this year there is going to be quite the desire for beating up on the university to be a top priority, I just don't see that happening. I think we're far enough removed from some of those issues, and enough changes have been made."

 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - A video surfaced from Thornbrook Ridge in southwest Columbia showing an individual stealing packages from the doorsteps of... More >>
24 minutes ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 8:00:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The 38th Annual Holiday Parade kicked off with sirens as police cars took the lead. The parade... More >>
2 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 6:09:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two students who studied at Washington University in St. Louis have been selected as Rhodes scholars.... More >>
3 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 5:21:34 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A 29-year-old man was in serious condition Sunday afternoon at University Hospital following a shooting Sunday morning. Columbia... More >>
4 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 4:12:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
NIXA (AP) — A city in southwest Missouri has opened the largest solar farm in the state. The Springfield... More >>
7 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 12:34:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Drew Lock threw three touchdown passes and Missouri won its fifth straight game to become bowl... More >>
13 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 7:07:00 AM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A suspect struck a victim, and suspects fired multiple rounds, brandished at least one firearm and took property... More >>
20 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 11:45:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – While in Chad, Haby Naya learned how to braid hair by doing her friend’s, sister’s and even her... More >>
20 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 11:25:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - If experience is important for success in sports, basketball players worldwide have much to learn from the Granny... More >>
21 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 10:53:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The nonprofit group behind the long-delayed streetcar set to operate in St. Louis' Loop area and... More >>
23 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 8:41:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A 19-year-old college freshman was driving home for Thanksgiving break Saturday when a tire on his car... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 7:15:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Dozens of people came out Saturday for the eighth annual Fall Into Art show at Parkade Plaza. ... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 5:19:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
HARRISBURG - A warm bed, a hot meal, and hugs from a loving family member are common enough memories for... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 3:00:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - Two Osage Beach residents were pronounced dead early Saturday morning following a single-car crash late Friday night.... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:54:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A Macon man and two others were hospitalized Saturday morning in one of two crashes that occurred... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:24:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – New blood pressure guidelines mean nearly half of adults in the U.S. that did not have high blood... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:12:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Officials are testing for asbestos among the debris left from a massive St. Louis warehouse fire.... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 1:17:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri prosecutor will not file criminal charges against a Southwest Airlines pilot arrested after Transportation... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 1:07:54 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 34°
9pm 36°
10pm 35°
11pm 37°
12am 38°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:20p
Sunday Night Football
10:30p
KOMU 8 News @ 10
11:05p
Sports Extra with Chris Gervino
7:00p
The Face of an Angel
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Family Guy

Tonight's Schedule

6:00p
Football Night in America
7:20p
Sunday Night Football
7:00p
The Face of an Angel
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Family Guy