JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) met Sept. 11, on the campus of Central Methodist University in Fayette to consider a unified request for legislative appropriation for the state's colleges, universities and financial aid programs.

The request for colleges and universities is based on a 4.4 percent increase representing the third year of a three-year legislative commitment to increase state funding for higher education and an additional 3 percent to begin to address Missouri's rank of 47th in the nation in per capita funding for higher education.

The board will ask for an appropriation to fund institutions core missions at almost $1.03 billion, which includes a $59.4 million increase for the universities, a $10.9 million increase for the community colleges and almost half a million additional funds for Linn State Technical College. Last year's core request was close to $960 million.

In addition to the core funding, the CBHE will request funding to address the acute need for more health care professionals in Missouri. The initiative, called "Caring for Missourians," would cost $39.8 million and has the potential to produce an additional 916 graduates in health care fields.

"Caring for Missourians is an alliance with business and industry that will build the health care capacity in Missouri and lead to productive careers for more graduates," says Commissioner of Higher Education Robert B. Stein. Health-related professions are one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the nation. Most counties in Missouri suffer from inadequate numbers of trained health care professionals. Eight percent of pharmacy positions and 10 percent of nursing positions in the state are vacant. Caring for Missourians mirrors last year's proposal, "Preparing to Care," which had significant support from the governor and General Assembly but was not ultimately funded.

The board also requested increased funding for student scholarships -- $5.1 million to increase award amounts in the Access Missouri program, and $281,000 for the new War Veterans Survivor Grant Program.

The CBHE and its advisory board, composed of college and university presidents from around the state, grappled with the acute need for capital improvement funds for higher education.

"It's hard to entice a business to our state when they go to a campus and see a laboratory that was built in the 1950's," says Mary Beth Luna-Wolf, CBHE member.

Campuses around the state have identified high priority needs for renovating or expanding buildings to accommodate new technology and growing student populations, but the board and the presidents recognize that the state has a limited capacity to address those needs.

The board voted to request $86.4 million to address urgent deferred maintenance projects and to submit to the governor and general assembly the list of each institution's top priority for capital improvement. These projects in total cost over $560 million. The board will also form a working group to identify potential new funding sources that would consistently meet ongoing critical capital improvement needs.

This is the first year the Coordinating Board for Higher Education implemented a funding framework based on a conceptual pyramid of priorities:

  • Institution's core missions
  • Statewide strategic initiatives - in this case, Caring for Missourians
  • Rewarding performance that demonstrates quality and results.

Funding for performance rewards institutions that can show improved academic achievement compared to established benchmarks. This year, the CBHE will ask for $500,000 to fund a pilot program to reward participating institutions for their graduates' - performance on licensure and certification exams.

"Rewarding institutions that prepare their graduates to succeed in the workplace builds integrity and accountability into the funding framework," Stein says. "These funds will only go to those institutions that can demonstrate they're doing a good job."

The CBHE meets five times per year at locations throughout the state. The next meeting is planned for Dec. 3-4, at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley, in Kansas City.

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