NWMSU, MU look to join forces soon

Karena Wells

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The House education committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1710 April 21.

Sponsored by Rep. Brad Lager (R-Maryville), the bill would revise references to Northwest Missouri State University to accomplish its incorporation into the University of Missouri System. It needs to be in agreement between the board of regents of Northwest and the board of curators at MU. The reviser of statutes would have to be notified by Aug. 28, 2006, for the changes to become effective. The bill also includes wording that would provide for the technical provisions concerning the transfer of property and employees and the control of funds.

Lager said in the hearing that one of the biggest concerns was the fact that there are two regional universities within 40 miles of one another (Northwest and Missouri Western State College). He said his bill would allow for improvements to Northwest and allow for Missouri Western to become the premier regional university for the northwest corner of Missouri.

He said he used his spring break from the House to meet with civic groups in Maryville holding a forum in the town hall for any one interested.

Rep. Maynard Wallace(R-Thornfield) questioned Lager as to whether the coordinating board at Northwest was in favor of the merge.

“I could stand up here and say there is 70 percent support,” Lager said. “But I don’t think so. I can tell you that this will help to diversify the universities and could be beneficial to all involved. I agree we will be giving up local control.”

Wallace also questioned whether there was wording in the bill to protect the current identity of the bill. Lager said there was not.

The question of a tuition raise was also addressed.

“Tuition will go up whether we merge or not,” Lager said.

He said that once the bill was accepted then the board of regents would be able to work with the MU system about easy ways to create tuition diversification.

The education committee did not come to any decision on the bill.

University President Julio Leon is in favor of the merger between the universities.

“I have no problem with Northwest being a part of the MU system,” León said. “But I do not foresee Missouri Southern ever becoming part of the MU system.”