JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson named his appointees to the University of Missouri System Review Commission on Wednesday — a list that includes former UM System President Gary Forsee, Maryville University professor Pamela Washington, Mizzou steering committee member Jeanne Sinquefield, and former MU vice chancellor for research Robert Duncan.
The appointments on Wednesday complete the eight-person panel that has been tasked with reviewing the university system in the coming months in preparation of a report with recommended changes to present to lawmakers by Dec. 31. Richardson’s appointments follow Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard’s earlier this month.
“I think what the president pro tem and I both wanted was people that complimented well with each other and I think that’s what we have — a good, well-rounded group of people who can do a good job,” Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, said. “We want them to get to work immediately and start coming up with some answers.”
Some lawmakers on the other side of the aisle weren’t as impressed with the appointees. House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, issued a release shortly after Richardson’s picks were announced.
“As House Democrats predicted, the membership of the newly appointed University of Missouri System Review Commission appears more geared toward advancing a Republican political agenda than improving higher education in our state,” Hummel said.
Hummel lambasted the completed list, saying it consisted of “one failed GOP gubernatorial candidate, a right-wing radio talk show host who is the spouse of another failed GOP gubernatorial candidate and a person whose family essentially owns the Missouri Republican Party due to the tens of millions of dollars they have given in support of its candidates and agenda.”
Hummel went on to say that the commission reflects the ongoing “Republican temper tantrum over the UM System that likely won’t do anything but waste $750,000 in taxpayer money.”
The commission was created by Missouri lawmakers last month after the university came under fire for its handling of protests over what some students saw as racism at the Columbia campus last year.
Richard, R-Joplin, named his four picks earlier this month, including Nel Bredehoeft, a corn and soybean farmer from Alma, Mo.; Renee Hulshof, a radio show co-host and wife of former congressman and Missouri gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof; Dave Spence, a former state candidate for governor and chairman and CEO at Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging; and Michael Williams, a lawyer in Kansas City.
The House, demanding answers this past session, approved a budget that cut the system’s budget, but the Senate maintained current funding levels. The disagreement and continued legislative scrutiny of the UM System led to the creation of the commission.
Richardson, for his part, said he only looked for people who have a passion for seeing the University of Missouri system succeed. This group, he said, can provide unbiased, objective feedback and criticism to help the system address some of the serious issues it has faced in recent years.
“I am confident these are the right individuals to provide the kind of guidance and constructive criticism that university leadership can greatly benefit from as they look to create a stronger, more stable learning environment for all students,” Richardson said. “Combined with the appointments made by Senator Richard, I think we have the right team in place to take on the challenge of making our university system all that it can and should be.”
Forsee, in addition to being the former UM System president from 2008-2011, also served as chairman and CEO of Sprint Nextel from 2003-2007. Forsee is a graduate of Missouri S&T with an engineering degree and has also served on the Missouri S&T Board of Trustees.
Washington is an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Education at Maryville University. Her previous research emphasized gifted education and social justice issues. She holds a doctorate of philosophy, curriculum and instruction from St. Louis University.
Sinquefield, currently a member of MU’s Steering Committee and named one of the “Missouri 100” for promoting the University’s missions. She also served as a board member for the “All We Call Mizzou” steering committee.
Duncan currently serves as Vice President for Strategic Research Initiatives at Texas Tech University, but he previously managed MU’s major research facilities in his role as the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Missouri.