COLUMBIA, Mo. — The University of Missouri System is seeking a new face to run their state government relations department, as their relationship with state lawmakers grows increasingly testy.
UM unwittingly found themselves at odds with state lawmakers when the Planned Parenthood facility in Columbia resumed surgical abortion services several years after ending the program. When leaked videos trigged a national conversation about Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program, Missouri lawmakers in the senate convened their Sanctity of Life committee to investigate.
University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin testified at length before the committee about the school’s decision to grant “refer and follow” privileges to the doctor providing abortions at the Columbia Planned Parenthood affiliate. The testimony was occasionally heated, with state lawmakers voicing concerns over what they saw as various failures to provide proper transparency to their internal decisions.
The following day, Loftin spoke before state lawmakers on the joint education committee on behalf of the University of Missouri Board of Curators and president Tim Wolfe. This time, he was back to discuss tenure, paid, and unpaid leave.
That hearing, and the concerns about leave, came as University of Missouri Law Professor Josh Hawley enters the attorney general primary as a Republican against Columbia-area state senator Kurt Schaefer. University policy was recently changed, appearing to make it more difficult to be granted leave in order to seek public office, but that change came not long after Hawley’s application for tenure and, ultimately, the right to leave to seek office, was approved.
The university website features a job listing for a new executive director of state government relations, a post that will involve coordinating the vast UM system operations as they directly relate to state government. A new face for the UM system in the Capitol may be exactly what the university needs as its relationship with state lawmakers continues to strain.