JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri University of Science and Technology chose the state Capitol building to launch its yearlong 150th anniversary celebration, in part to get lawmakers' attention as it asks for more state funding.
More than 100 people gathered in the Capitol rotunda Tuesday morning to hear from university officials, students and lawmakers.
Missouri S&T Chancellor Mo Dehghani told the crowd that the school, which started as Missouri School of Mines and was later called the University of Missouri-Rolla before taking its current name, has a proven track record.
“We have a sold-out crowd of international companies that come to campus to recruit our graduates. The average number of job offers that our graduates get is seven,” Dehghani said.
State Auditor and S&T alumna Nicole Galloway was one of the state officials to speak at the sesquicentennial kickoff. Galloway said her 2016 audit of higher education spending showed Missouri ranked 46th in the nation in state spending per student.
“Because the state has squeezed funding for higher education, that means tuition and fees have had to go up,” Galloway said. “That means families and students have to take on more of the load and sometimes more debt to seek a better opportunity for themselves or their families.”
Galloway is also running for governor, and her remarks had moments of sounding like a campaign speech.
Dehghani said state funding needs to improve, but he also has faith in Gov. Mike Parson.
“We cannot continue to underfund education and expect a better outcome. Gov. Parson has been a friend of higher education. He has demonstrated that time and again. And I am very much hopeful that will continue,” Dehghani said.
State Sen. Justin Brown, R-Rolla, is an S&T graduate who represents the district that includes the university. He said funding higher ed is important but stopped short of promising a funding increase.
“I’ll do what I can to make sure that we procure the proper appropriations to continue to be the best,” Brown said.
Missouri S&T’s 150th anniversary celebration will continue all year, with nearly weekly events on campus including lectures and presentations. The campus is also releasing a book, "Forged in Gold: Missouri S&T’s First 150 Years," written by Professor Emeritus Larry Gragg.
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