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Oversight panel for the UM System gets initial support

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has become one of the loudest critics of University of Missouri decision-making in recent months.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

A Missouri Senate committee is considering legislation to create an appointed, eight-member Review Commission for the University of Missouri System. The sponsor, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, says this panel will help sort out a recent lack of leadership.

“I think we’ve gotten to a point where there’s a lot of stagnation at the university," said Schaefer. "Ideally, it would be the curators that would do this. But I think we’re at a point now where somebody on the outside needs to look at this. I don’t think you need to look any further than the whole saga with Melissa Click.”

Click is a former Mizzou communications professor who was fired for her actions during last fall’s campus unrest. Schaefer says the university system has a convoluted grievance process that doesn’t allow for swift decision-making.

“Once a complaint gets filed, then faculty puts together a group,” said Schaefer. “They look at what happened, they make a recommendation to the chancellor, and the chancellor then follows the recommendation.” 

Schaefer says the chancellor has no independent authority to make changes, even when prompted by legislators, because only faculty have the standing to file a formal complaint.

“The rules have gotten so out of balance, that really you don’t have an administration that’s responsible for the fiscal aspects and the management aspects of the university like they should be,” said Schaefer. “… Faculty should be in charge of academics, but it’s kind of gotten turned on its head.” 

Under his proposed resolution (SCR 66), the Review Commission would submit recommendations to the General Assembly and the UM System by the end of this year. The 2017 legislative body would then be able to assess whether or not universities are complying with the recommendations.

Steve Knorr, UM System vice president of university relations, says he and his colleagues will welcome the third-party recommendations.

“We are always receptive to the input of the General Assembly,” said Knorr. “If we have some outside expertise that can be brought to the table that’s going to help us look forward, then we welcome that.”

The Review Commission would have eight members, four appointed by Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and four appointed by House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff. 

No one spoke in opposition to the legislation. It will remain in committee until scheduled for a vote. 

The University of Missouri’s Board of Curators holds the license for St. Louis Public Radio.

Mallory Daily is an intern at the State Capitol Bureau for St. Louis Public Radio. Follow on Twitter: @malreports

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