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The University of Missouri Board of Curators could add three new members this spring

The University of Missouri’s columns stand in front of Dr. Richard H. Jesse Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, at the campus in Columbia, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
The University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia

Gov. Mike Parson has appointed three people to the Board of Curators that oversees the University of Missouri System, one of whom would break a long-standing trend.

The current board members hold a total of seven degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia and none from the other three campuses: University of Missouri-St. Louis, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Robert Fry would change that. The Kansas City-area orthodontist is a graduate of the UMKC School of Dentistry.

“I think having more voices involved from different areas helps you to get the best solution and to help you to maybe see unintended consequences that, if everyone went to the same school, you might be able to avoid,” said gubernatorial candidate, Missouri S&T alumnus and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft just prior to the board’s meeting in Rolla last week.

The other appointees are St. Louis attorney Robert Blitz, who represented the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the St. Louis Sports Authority in a lawsuit over the St. Louis Rams’ move to Los Angeles, and Jeannie Sinquefield of Westphalia, who is a retired training executive for Dimensional Fund Advisors. She and her husband, Rex, have donated millions of dollars to the University of Missouri, in addition to other philanthropic gifts around the state.

Board President Michael Williams said he has spoken with all three of the appointees and believes they share the board’s goals.

“We all work to bring our perspective to try to provide the best environment we possibly can for our students, our faculty and our staff. And if we do that, we're going to meet the mission that the state wants. We're going to meet the mission that the parents want, and our surrounding communities are going to embrace that,” Williams said during a news conference last week in Rolla.

Fry will fill the 4th Congressional District spot on the board, and Sinquefield will fill the 3rd Congressional District seat, both of which have been vacant.

Blitz will be filling the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Greg Hoberock.

The Senate’s Committee on Gubernatorial Appointments is expected to take up the nominations on Wednesday and could advance them to the full Senate for approval.

The curators' next meeting is in June in Columbia.

Jonathan is the Rolla correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.