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University of Missouri System hosts Lobby Day

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Representatives from the University of Missouri system’s campuses filled the capitol rotunda yesterday to urge lawmakers to support new bonding measures for higher education.

Charles Hoffman, Dean of the College of Business Administration at UMSL, said the focus for his campus was to see funds allocated as part of the bonding bill in order to avoid a potential budget withhold. Last year, UMSL secured $10 million in matching funds for a new building in the higher education budget only to see the money withheld by Gov. Jay Nixon, who cited the legislature’s “reckless” budget as the reason.

“Everybody believes in the cause and they like the idea of getting a new state building for half the price,” Hoffman said. “It’s a good way to go forward. I think [the legislature] has been fair, and we’ve got some alums in this building, so that helps.”

UMSL touts its prime classroom-to-workforce pipeline when pitching to lawmakers for state funds. Last fall, 95 of UMSL grads secured jobs prior to graduation.

Hoffman said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the legislature would advance a bonding measure — not subject to a potential withholding in a budget fight — by the end of the year that would include funds for UMSL. The University of Missouri system is vast, with campus spanning across the state. Leaving plenty of UM graduates in the legislature as well.

Public universities, at the request of Nixon, have kept tuition rates frozen for several years. In fact, Missouri has led the nation in keeping tuition rates low for the last several years. The move has left many schools with maintenance and other development on the backburner while budgets remain tight.