by Collin Reischman
“Generally, Community Colleges are significantly underfunded per-student than colleges in other states,” said Zora Mulligan, Executive Director for MCCA. “We have a considerable variety in terms of the kinds of institutions of higher education we have in this state, and that can be a benefit if we allocate resources appropriately.”
Mulligan is former general counsel for legislative liaison in the Department of Higher Education and a former assistant Attorney General for Environmental and Consumer protection, but she spent her last 3 years at MCCA.
“Higher education is important,” Mulligan said. “It can be the first step in better jobs, better economies, better everything.”
One very active member of MCCA, Devin Stephenson, President of Three Rivers College said, “The Missouri Community College Association provides a tremendous vehicle for collaboration among our 12 colleges. In my career, I haven’t seen a more effective entity of advocacy and cooperation, and one that brings out the best of Missouri’s community colleges. And that is critical considering we now enroll more Missourians than any other sector of higher education in this state.”
The upcoming session presents plenty of challenges, but the MCCA has been around for almost 50 years and developed strong relationships in the Capitol. Mulligan cited Senators Libla and Romine as “advocates and allies,” in higher education issues. Kathy Swan, House republican and chairwoman of the Higher Education committee, is also a key ally and friend to the higher education mission, according to Mulligan.
Outside of funding formulas, MCCA will be closely monitoring any bill that creates programs training Missourians to work, whether through New Jobs’s programs or Job Retention programs, Mulligan said such development bills would get special attention from the MCCA.
The MCCA is also looking forward to working with the freshmen house members on the higher education committee. Mulligan specifically mentioned Caleb Rowden and John Wright as committee members the MCCA is looking forward to working with.
“We have the benefit of having a lot of allies in the Capitol, and plenty of community college alums in the Capitol,” Mulligan said. “So we do have some great relationships with legislators who have shown that higher education is important to them.”