Bill looks to add professional diversity to UM Board of Curators

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JEFFERSON CITY - Following the resignation of three UM Board of Curators since November, lawmakers at the state capital hope to add more professional diversity to the board. 

Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, said a proposed bill would only allow two board members from a single occupation on all higher education boards appointed by the governor. 

"I'm not picking out lawyers, but you take Mizzou right now. They've got six curators, all six are lawyers," Rone said. 

Three other universities have more than two lawyers on the governing board. Missouri State University has four lawyers, Missouri Southern State University has three lawyers, and Lincoln University has three lawyers on their boards.

The UM System said it has no position on Rone's bill. 

Rone said, "It doesn't matter if it's education, what board it is needs more diversification because if you have one group and they control the thinking of that board, you don't need but one member. I know for a fact that a person from southeast Missouri farmer would think different than a St. Louis lawyer."

KOMU 8 News looked into the higher education governing boards in surrounding states to see how the UM Board of Curators compared. The Kansas Board of Regents and the Illinois Board of Trustees each have three lawyers on the board. The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees has four lawyers on its board and the Board of Regents for the state of Iowa has one lawyer on its board. 

Rone said changing the professional diversity of the board might not change the board's final decisions, but it will better represent the people of Missouri.

"It's about diversity of the people of Missouri on those boards. It's about not one occupation controlling one whole board as large as Missouri, or Southeast Missouri State," Rone said. "We don't need one occupation controlling the board of a whole university." 

Rode said no one spoke for or against the bill in Tuesday's public hearing. He said the bill will move to executive session next week.