KAREN L. PLETZ JEWEL D. SCOTT
CHAIR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
THE CIVIC COUNCIL OF GREATER KANSAS CITY
One Kansas City Place, 1200 Main Street, Suite 230
Kansas City, Missouri 64105
Telephone: 816-221-2263 FAX: 816-221-2209
TO: Missouri Higher Education Supporters
FROM: David Welte, Chair, Civic Council Higher Education Initiatives
DATE: September 2009
SUBJECT: Update on efforts to build a statewide coalition to support and advocate for higher
education in Missouri
Over the last year, members and staff of the Civic Council have been in touch with you – either
in person, by phone, or by regular or electronic mail – to gauge the interest in, and feasibility of,
establishing a statewide coalition of business and civic leaders to support and advocate for higher
education. For purposes of this coalition, the terms “higher education” and “universities and
colleges” refer to the higher education system in the state of Missouri, including all public and
private four-year and two-year institutions and technical schools. This coalition will focus on
issues that affect the broader higher education system rather than institutional or parochial
interests. We have found enthusiastic support and encouragement from all parts of the state and,
more importantly, a consensus that there is a dire need for such a coalition. I am writing to
provide you with a report on our outreach and an update on the plan going forward.
BACKGROUND AND IMPERATIVE. As you are well aware, funding for higher education
is under attack nationwide as state budgets are strained to the breaking point. State funding for
Missouri’s universities and colleges already ranks among the lowest in the United States.
Missouri’s higher education system fares equally poorly in national assessments. Given the
current national and state economic realities, state support for higher education will continue to
face even more challenges in the coming years.
The future of Missouri’s economy is dependent on having smart people with smart ideas who
can innovate, create new companies and build on the assets that we already have created in the
state. Our colleges and universities are one of the most important economic development tools
we have. Attracting and retaining the best and brightest faculty, students and administrators to
Missouri’s universities and colleges is essential if the state wants to compete effectively in the
21st Century global economy. If we, collectively, are successful in launching this initiative and
building a sustainable, statewide coalition to support and advocate for higher education, our
state’s policy leaders – as well as the general public – will come to view higher education as a
priority investment in, and for, Missouri’s future.
UPDATE ON OUTREACH EFFORTS
Since last fall, our outreach efforts have brought us in contact with hundreds of individuals and
organizations across the state of Missouri, including:
Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE), comprised of the presidents and
chancellors of Missouri’s four-year public higher education institutions;
The Presidents and Chancellors Council of the Missouri Community College
Springfield Chamber of Commerce and Springfield-area business leaders;
Southeast Missouri State University’s Foundation Board;
Business and civic leaders in the Kirksville and St. Joseph areas;
Members and staff of Civic Progress and the Regional Business Council in St. Louis;
University of Missouri System leadership;
Coordinating Board for Higher Education and senior staff of the Department of Higher
Thank you to those who have helped facilitate these meetings.
Outreach to other individuals and organizations around the state remains ongoing. It is important
to note that outreach and education efforts and recruitment of new supporters of this initiative is
– and will remain – an ongoing effort.
CREATION OF A NEW ORGANIZATION. Based on the widespread support we have
received, we think it is appropriate to proceed with formalizing this initiative and putting a public
face on it by creating a new, independent 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. The organization
will need to be properly organized, staffed and funded over the long-term in order to maintain a
strong, sustained voice for higher education in Jefferson City. The Civic Council has seen
through its founding and involvement with Citizens for Higher Education (CHE) in Kansas
(www.kansashighereducation.org) the positive impact on legislators and other elected officials
and policy makers when business and civic leaders from across the state deliver, over several
years, a consistent and sustained message.
This new organization will bring together and provide structure for the coalition of individuals
and organizations we have begun to assemble who support higher education, without regard to
individual institutions, systems (four-year vs. two-year, public vs. private), or partisan politics.
This coalition of civic and business leaders, speaking in a unified voice with a common message
and goal, will advocate for higher education from the perspective of the businesses that require a
well-educated workforce in order to compete and thrive in the future. This message will be a
powerful reminder to policy makers that their decisions regarding higher education not only
affect the university and college officials and lobbyists from whom they usually hear, but also
the individuals and organizations that drive the state’s economy and comprise its tax base.
Note that the details below regarding this new organization are not set in stone. The purpose of
this update is to set forth a proposed structure for your consideration and comment.
Name: Missouri’s Higher Education Partnership. We believe this name adequately represents
who we are and what we are trying to do, that is business and civic leaders that are coming
together – or partnering – to support the higher education system in Missouri.
Premise: The fundamental premise for this new organization is that Missouri’s future economic
prosperity requires a high-quality, well-funded, accessible and affordable higher education
Board: This new organization will be governed by a board of up to 25 directors, with
representation from all regions of the state. Founding board members are currently being
identified and recruited. While no formal qualifications for board service have been established
yet, board members should be visible business and civic leaders in their communities and will
serve as liaisons to their local communities, should have a passion for higher education, and will
be called on to provide and/or solicit financial support for the new organization. The inaugural
board will adopt bylaws and operating policies regarding the specific criteria for board service
and selection of board members, size and composition of the ongoing board, the designation of
an executive committee, and other measures as needed. If you are interested in serving on the
inaugural board or would like to nominate someone else, please complete and submit the
form on the last page of this update.
Advisory Council: Additionally, we propose establishing an advisory council consisting of the
Executive Director of the Council on Public Higher Education;
Chair of the Council on Public Higher Education;
Executive Director of the Missouri Community College Association;
Chair of the Missouri Community College Association’s Presidents and Chancellors
Executive Director of the Independent Colleges & Universities of Missouri;
Chair of the Independent Colleges & Universities of Missouri;
Chair of the Coordinating Board of Higher Education; and,
Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education.
Additional members of this advisory committee may be added. In addition to providing counsel
to this new organization, these individuals will serve as liaisons to various organizations and
entities around the state with whom we will need to collaborate.
Supporters: There is certainly strength in numbers. We hope to build a broad foundation of
business and civic leaders from across the State of Missouri who will become founding
supporters of this new organization. Supporters will be asked to lend their names in support of
the organization, including being listed on the website and in other materials of this new
organization. Supporters will be called upon, as needed, to contact legislators and other policy
leaders. Regular correspondence to supporters will ensure that they are up to date on and
engaged in the activities of the organization and are generally educated about the relevant issues.
We anticipate that being a “supporter” will require a nominal commitment of time and an annual
fee, likely $250.10 If you are interested in becoming a founding supporter, please complete
and submit the form on the last page of this update.
Budget: Start-up costs for this new organization are estimated at $50,000. This includes
creation of collateral materials (i.e., logo, letterhead, website) and initial, baseline research.
Based on our experience with CHE in Kansas , as well as discussions that have occurred during
the outreach phase, an annual operating budget of $200,000 is anticipated. In addition to
financial support from the Civic Council, commitments for start-up and/or first year operating
expenses have been received from: Civic Progress; Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce;
and, St. Louis Regional Business Council.
Staffing: Civic Council has provided staffing for this initiative to date. We recognize, however,
that this new organization should be spun out of Civic Council as soon as possible in order to
establish a separate identity and to increase the sense of ownership by all of the supporters of the
new organization. This spin off should not be premature; the inaugural board will determine
when this transition is appropriate, but it is expected that there will be enough volume of activity
to justify retaining outside staffing, on a contractual basis, by mid-2010. Until that time, Civic
Council is committed to providing ongoing staffing support. The $200,000 annual operating
budget contemplates transitioning the staffing of the new organization to an outside contractor
who will handle the day-to-day operations and activities of the new organization, including
communications, logistics, advocacy, and education efforts. A contract lobbyist may also be
retained to represent the organization in Jefferson City; this is also contemplated in the $200,000
Activities: This new entity will engage in and coordinate various educational, non-political
activities that demonstrate the business community’s support for higher education. The
activities, within the boundaries allowed under the 501(c)(3) regulations, will likely include:
Research (first 18 months, and ongoing) – (1) determine the competitive position of
Missouri institutions of higher education compared to similar institutions in both peer and
aspirational state higher education systems; (2) research the economic impact of higher
education upon the state, by state senatorial and/or house district; (3) continue to build
comprehensive research on higher education impact and issues.
Create a bipartisan Higher Education Caucus of legislators to educate them on the issues
relating to and affecting higher education, including the ability (or inability) to compete
in the 21st Century global economy – and the consequences of under-funding the higher
education system in Missouri.
Work with other partners and stakeholders (e.g., Coordinating Board for Higher
Education, University of Missouri System and Curators, Council on Public Higher
Education, Missouri Community College Association) to identify key legislative issues
and bills important to the higher education system.
The inaugural board will determine the amount of the annual fee.
Begin the long-term and continuous process of educating opinion leaders (grasstops)
around the state about the importance of higher education to their local economies and to
Missouri’s state economy and recruit new supporters of the organization.
Identify and track important votes in the General Assembly relating to higher education.
Develop a website to educate supporters, grasstops, grassroots, elected officials and
others about the importance of higher education to the state and the issues relating to and
affecting the higher education system, including legislative voting records.
Mobilize supporters and partners as needed to advocate for or against specific legislation,
We are currently in the process of scheduling an initial meeting of all interested persons and
supporters of this new organization for November 2009. Details for the meeting – date, time and
location – will be distributed in the near future. A preliminary agenda will also be sent closer to
the meeting date. We hope you will consider attending.
CONTINUING COMMITTEE. Identifying, recruiting, electing and supporting pro-higher
education candidates for the General Assembly and other statewide elected positions will help
ensure long-term success of this initiative. We anticipate establishing a separate continuing
committee, also known as a political action committee (PAC), which will accept funds, support
pro-higher education candidates, and fund all other political activities. The annual operating
budget discussed above would be separate from, and in addition to, funding for a PAC. A
separate disbursement committee will be appointed to direct PAC contributions.
CONCLUSION. Thanks to you and others around the state, we have received much enthusiasm
and support for this initiative. There is widespread recognition of the critical role higher
education plays in Missouri’s economy. The long-term commitment and investment
contemplated by this initiative will help bolster higher education in the state, leading the way to
an economic recovery for the State of Missouri and ensuring that our state remains competitive
in the 21st Century global economy.
If you have comments, questions, suggestions or feedback regarding this update, the initiative, or
the proposed plan going forward, please contact me or Jason Dalen:
David A. Welte, Chair, Civic Council Higher Education Initiatives
Executive Vice President and General Counsel
The Stowers Institute for Medical Research
(816) 926-4012 or email@example.com
Jason Dalen, Civic Council Associate Director
(816) 983-2301 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We certainly intend for this new organization to be inclusive. Please forward this report to
any friends, colleagues, family, etc. who you think might be interested in supporting what
we are trying to do.
Thank you for your interest in this initiative and for your continued support of higher education
in the state of Missouri.
Yes, I am interested in becoming a supporter of this new organization.
Please note that by checking this option, you are not making any financial
commitment at this time. We will be back in touch with you once the organization is
incorporated and the annual fee is determined by the inaugural board.
Yes, I would like to be considered for service on the inaugural board.
Please complete this form regardless of whether you think we have your information. Thank
Please return this form to email@example.com or fax to (816) 221-2209