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University review commission to hold first meeting Friday at Missouri Capitol

The Columns at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
(via Flickr/Adam Procter)
The University of Missouri System's flagship campus in Columbia, Mo.

The commission created by Republican lawmakers to review the University of Missouri System is about to hold its first meeting.

The commission was created by GOP leaders following last fall's unrest on the system's main campus in Columbia. Protests centered on accusations that university officials, in particular former UM System president Tim Wolfe, were ignoring a series of racial incidents.

Wolfe resigned as system president at the height of the unrest. That news was followed hours later by a confrontation between former Mizzou communications professor Melissa Click and a photojournalist covering the protests.

As a result of the protests, the university's response and the incident involving Click, state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, sponsored a measure creating the review commission.

Renee Hulshof, who hosts a radio show in Columbia, is one of eight people appointed to serve on the commission. She is also the wife of former U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, the Republican nominee for Missouri governor in 2008. Other than getting organized and electing a chair and vice chair, she says she doesn't know what's going to happen yet.

"It's a pretty long list of things that the legislature wanted us to look at and issue a report on, and the way in which we do that is entirely up to us," Hulshof said. "We can request reports, we can hold hearings, we can do campus visits."

But they'll have to do all that without any money. Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, is withholding the commission's funding as part of a long list of temporary cuts to the new state budget. Hulshof said House and Senate leaders are looking at ways commission members' expenses can be covered without breaking any laws.

"We discussed this very thing, and leadership made it pretty clear to us that we should move forward, and that they were examining the legal ways in which our expenses could be covered until, and unless, or it may never happen, those funds are released," she said.

The list of items the commission will examine include the university system's diversity program, hiring procedures, academic programs and academic policies.

"You could take anyone of those items and spend six months looking at just (that) one thing," Hulshof said.  "I'm kind of anxious to know how we're going to, as they say ... 'eat the elephant one bite at a time.' It's a pretty large task what we're about to take on."

The commission has until the end of the year to gather information and make recommendations for the 2017 legislative session.  The organizational meeting is scheduled Friday for 10 a.m. at the state Capitol.

According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, the members of the commission are:

Selected by Speaker Todd Richardson:

  • former UM System President Gary Forsee
  • Jeanne Sinquefield
  • Pamela Washington, adjunct professor at Maryville University
  • Robert Duncan, former MU vice chancellor for research

Selected by Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard:

  • Dave Spence, 2012 Republican candidate for governor and CEO of Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging
  • Neal Bredehoeft, president of Bredehoeft Farms Inc.
  • Michael Williams, an attorney
  • Hulshoff


Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.