For Release:
March 19, 2010

Contact: Kathy Love — 573.522.1463

Jefferson City – The Coordinating Board for Higher Education voted yesterday to suspend the search for a new commissioner due to shrinking state resources and until more is known about the potential creation of a new Department of Education. Current Commissioner of Higher Education Robert B. Stein announced his retirement in June 2009, effective July 1, 2010. 

The CBHE, meeting in an emergency session via conference call, voted to postpone hiring a new commissioner for four to six weeks. “The board agreed that additional time will ensure a well-informed decision,” said Lowell Kruse, chairman of the board.  “We want to be part of the solution for making government more efficient.”   

The board also discussed the need to reposition state government with fewer employees, including a smaller Missouri Department of Higher Education. Stein told the board he is working on a plan to lay off about 25 percent of the department’s 31 positions that are funded with some general revenue prior to the end of the fiscal year as part of the state’s goal for reducing the overall number of workers on the state’s payroll. This plan is being developed at the direction of the state’s Office of Administration.

Stein explained to the board that he is also reorganizing staff assignments to maximize a smaller department’s ability to meet assigned statutory responsibilities. “We are analyzing all commitments in order to reduce our operational budget,” Stein said.

As one cost-saving move, the board also voted to combine their scheduled April 8 meeting in Joplin with previously planned joint meetings in mid-April with the state’s education boards and the Senate 20/20 Educated Citizenry Committee.