Eight Missouri university presidents, including Tim Wolfe of the UM system and Dr. Jon Bauer of East Central College, testified before state legislators Wednesday in regards to funding higher education.

Eight Missouri university presidents, including Tim Wolfe of the UM system and Dr. Jon Bauer of East Central College, testified before state legislators Wednesday in regards to funding higher education.

The Missouri Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education held the hearing at the Havener Center on the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus.

The committee has been directed to develop a comprehensive funding formula for Missouri public institutions of higher education by Dec. 31, 2013, and the Legislature is expected to implement it for the 2015 budget year.

“That’s our goal. That’s our mission,” said Sen. David Pearce, committee chairman. “One thing we have in common is that we support higher education.”

Pearce said Missouri has a big and diverse higher education system.

Other committee members who attended the hearing included Sen. Joseph Keaveny, Rep. Genise Montecillo, Rep. Ira Anders, Rep. Mike Thomson, Sen. Brian Nieves as well as Rep. Mike Lair, committee vice chairman, who listened and asked questions via a conference call.

Sen. Dan Brown, who represents the 16th District which includes Rolla, also attended as an ex-officio member and Stacey Preis, executive director of the committee, also was at the hearing.

During Wolfe’s testimony, he stated that he welcomed a “new mode of funding as long as it accurately reflects our (UM system) mission.”

Some states are now basing higher education funding on performance and Wolfe said he would welcome that, noting “That’s why we put those accountability measures in place.”
Other university presidents stated that 50 percent should be based on an institution’s performance.

However, Wolfe would not give a percentage, adding that it depends on how the performance-based funding formula is set up. “I would suggest a lower (percentage) versus a higher” to begin with, he said.

Wolfe said where that type of formula is in place, “it’s caused the right kind of change.”

In addition to performance, the funding formula also should consider a university’s mission and changes in enrollment, Wolfe said.

Bauer testified together along with Myrtle Dorsey, chancellor of St. Louis Community College, and Zora Mulliga, CEO of the Missouri Community College Association.

During Bauer’s testimony, he emphasized ECC’s programs that work with businesses and organizations in the community. One example in Rolla is the ECC nursing program’s partnership with Phelps County Regional Medical Center.

ECC also works with four-year institutions, like Missouri S&T, and offers a pre-engineering program. Bauer said, “Students can transfer credits back and still earn an associate’s degree.”

Mulliga talked about looking at per-student funding basis, noting that while there has been a shift in enrollment at community colleges in Missouri, a shift in funding has not occurred.

Also testifying Wednesday were Linn State Technical College President Dr. Donald Claycomb, Missouri State University President Clif Smart, Harris-Stowe State University President Dr. Albert Walker, Missouri Southern State University Bruce Speck and Southeast Missouri State University Dr. Ken Dobbins.

The individuals who gave testimony during the hearing were asked to focus on five areas:

• What are the essential functions of higher education?

• What are the shared goals of the institutions? What are their unique goals?

• Are the missions of the institutions consistent with their missions as outlined in statute? If not, how do they differ?

• How can higher education institutions most effectively contribute to Missouri's educational and economic policy goals?

• What are the indicators that higher education institutions are serving Missouri well?

Wednesday’s hearing was the third and final hearing held by the committee. The two previous public hearings were held at North Central Missouri College in Trenton Sept. 25 and the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg Oct. 23.

The Joint Committee on Education is made up of seven state senators and seven state representatives.