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Government, Politics & Issues

UM System curators represent four campuses, but only have degrees from one: Mizzou

The University of Missouri’s columns stand in front of Dr. Richard H. Jesse Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, at the campus in Columbia, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
The University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia

Gov. Mike Parson has two appointments to make to the University of Missouri Board of Curators, and the current chairman says adding graduates from various campuses in the system doesn’t need to be a priority.

The current eight members hold 11 degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia and none from the campuses in St. Louis and Kansas City or Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla.

Chairman Darryl Chatman said it shouldn't be a priority to appoint a graduate from any of the non-flagship campuses.

“I don’t think that is a criteria that would be decisive in his decision-making. And at the same time, I would say that is the governor’s prerogative,” Chatman said.

A spokesperson for Parson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chatman said it is the responsibility of all board members to represent the entire system, and if they don’t do that, they shouldn’t be on the board.

“Regardless of where you graduated from, you look at every university campus as having its own unique needs and we pay special attention to each campus, regardless of the issues they have,” Chatman said.

Darryl Chatman speaks at a lectern in front of a large sign that says "Innovation Lab Groundbreaking."
Jonathan Ahl
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St. Louis Public Radio
UM System Board of Curators Chairman Darryl Chatman speaks at the groundbreaking of the Innovation Lab at Missouri University of Science & Technology on April 21.

The terms of Curators Maurice Graham and Julia Brncic ended in January 2021, but both continued to serve on the board. Graham stepped down last week prior to the board meeting in Rolla, citing personal reasons.

University pension changes

In other business during the curators meeting last week in Rolla, the board made changes to the pension plan for system retirees.

Previous pension rules allowed the curators to make cost-of-living adjustments for retirees during hard economic times. But the board voted unanimously to rule out such increases in the future.

UM System President Mun Choi said the intent is to improve the financial health of the entire retirement system.

“We are taking active measures to ensure that the retirement plans will pay out what the members expect when they retire,” Choi said.

Retirees had objected to the move and asked for language that could at least keep the option on the table for future boards.

The University of Missouri pension fund is facing an anticipated $315 million shortfall. Choi said the system needs to preserve the financial health of the entire pension program.

“The retirement for current and future retirees is of paramount concern for all of us — the board, the administration, and people who work at the university,” Choi said.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

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