Blunt Signs Bill Providing Funds for UCM
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG - 05/24/2007 - As part of whirl-wind tour of the state, Gov. Matt Blunt on Thursday, May 24 signed a historic higher education plan for Missouri students and families during a visit to the University of Central Missouri. His campus visit to campus took place in the Morrow-Garrison Complex, a facility which will receive millions of dollars in funding for renovation under the governor's plan.
View the video news release of the signing of Senate Bill 389
Ceremony Draws Crowd
Blunt conducted the ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 389 while visiting with about 100 educators and students who gathered for the event in North Morrow's Athletic Training Education Laboratory. He told the crowd his plan increases funding for student scholarships, introduces accountability measures, provides tuition stabilization and includes the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative, which would provide $335 million for new state-of-the-art learning centers for Missouri's college and university students.
Gov. Matt Blunt, center, conducts the ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 389
Blunt Touts Benefits of Bill
"Classroom renovations in the Morrow-Garrison Complex will enhance the quality of learning for University of Central Missouri's health education program students," Blunt said. "The legislation will put higher education in reach for more Missouri students and families than ever before. Significant improvements such as increased funding for Missouri's colleges and universities, tuition stabilization measures and added scholarships will open the door to higher education for thousands of students and families in Warrensburg and across the state."
Gov. Matt Blunt signs Senate Bill 389 during a
- Provides $13.2 million for the Morrow-Garrison Complex
- Increases number of students receiving scholarships from Access Missouri to an estimated 2,800
- Increases the institution's operating budget by 4.2 percent
Blunt was joined for the bill signing by UCM President Aaron Podolefsky; Mike Dillon, a Central Missouri senior education science major from Warrensburg; Marsha Drennon, president of
State Fair Community College, Sedalia; SB 389 sponsor Senator Gary Nodler, District 32, Joplin;Senator Chris Koster, District 31, Harrisonville; Representative David Pearce, District 121, Warrensburg; and Representative Gayle Kingery, District 154, Poplar Bluff.
Restoration Due for Aging Facility
According to Dirk Nelson, chair of the Department of Health and Human Performance at UCM, money provided through the Lewis and Clark Initiative will go toward a $15 million renovation of the Morrow-Garrison Complex, which has not undergone a major renovation in more than 50 years. The facility's interior will be modernized and renovated, including new mechanical systems, and improved access for individuals with disabilities.
Student Welcomes Change
Dillon, who is one of the students who use its classroom and lab facilities, told the gathering, "As a student in the Department of Health and Human Performance, I have witnessed first-hand just how much the Morrow-Garrison Complex is in need of repair. Without state funding, these facilities have deteriorated over the years to the point where some areas are no longer useable.
"This department offers first-class educational programs. We're all pleased that it now has funding to improve these facilities and provide a first-class learning environment. Thank you Governor Blunt and the General Assembly for making it possible," Dillon said.
"I believe this is one of, if not the most important higher education bills in our state's history," said Nodler said. "The Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative, combined with the new Access Missouri Scholarship program and increased funding for both higher education and scholarships will not only turn higher education around in our state, but will also revolutionize our higher education institutions and the opportunities available to our students."
Bill Includes Increases in Scholarship Dollars
The legislation creates the Access Missouri Scholarship that more than doubles funding for needs based scholarships, increasing the funding available statewide from $27.5 million to $72.5 million and making them more available to thousands of Missouri families.
The Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative, which is also enacted by the legislation, is a partnership between the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) and the state that sells loans held by students in other states generating $335 million to strengthen Missouri's higher education institutions. The initiative will provide much needed funding for state-of-the-art learning and research centers to prepare students to compete in today's global economy where higher quality learning in areas such as math and science are crucial elements for students' future success.
The governor praised the General Assembly's work on the legislation, and called it a tremendous stride forward for Missouri higher education.
Speaking about the ceremonial signing of the bill, the governor noted, "This is really a celebration for the university and the state."