Parson withdraws nominee to replace Steelman on the University of Missouri curators

Rudi Keller
Missouri Independent

David Steelman of Rolla will remain a member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators until at least the end of this year’s legislative session.

On Thursday, Gov. Mike Parson withdrew the nomination of Keith Holloway of Cape Girardeau to the 8th Congressional District seat on the nine-member board. Holloway, who was nominated March 18, received a hearing from the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee on April 21 but no vote has been held.

By withdrawing the nomination, Parson preserved his ability to appoint Holloway to the board in the future. If the legislative session had ended without a favorable confirmation vote, Holloway would have been barred for life from a seat on the board that governs the four-campus university system.

Steelman is one of three curators who are serving beyond the end of their terms. After the legislative session ends, Parson, who has demanded that Steelman resign to make way for Holloway, can make appointments that are effective immediately and subject to confirmation the next time lawmakers are in session.

Parson’s office has not responded to a request for comment on whether he intends to appoint Holloway again after lawmakers adjourn.

The next meeting of the board is expected to take place May 19. That tentative date is for a special meeting to set tuition rates for the fall term.

Holloway’s nomination became entangled in the political fight over the 6th Congressional District seat. At one point, keeping Steelman on the board indefinitely was the price demanded by Republicans who opposed Parson’s pick, former Missouri Republican Party Chairman Todd Graves. But Parson refused to make a deal.

Graves, who was nominated at the same time as Holloway, was confirmed after Parson struck a deal with Democrats over who would be named to St. Louis-area seats on the board.

Parson was reportedly furious with Steelman over the fact that he contacted UM System President Mun Choi with concerns about Steve Tilley, a former House speaker and Parson adviser who lobbies for the university. 

Steelman felt Tilley was trying to leverage his position to score contracts for his other clients, and worried he would lose his spot on the curators if he didn’t “play ball.” 

Under state law, one curator is appointed from each of the state’s eight congressional districts and one member can be appointed from anywhere in the state. No more than two can be from a single congressional district.

Holloway could not be reached for comment Friday morning.

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