First, let's all give a big "Thank you!" to the folks, foundations and businesses that have given gifts to Missouri State University and Ozarks Technical Community College in recent years.
Second, let's hope Missouri legislators and the governor are taking notice and invest in the future as these donors have been doing.
MSU-West Plains recently announced a $4 million estate gift from Lorene Thompson Brooks, who died in December 2010 in Austin, Texas. It will be used for the need-based scholarship program Corps of Opportunity and two athletic scholarships. It's the single largest scholarship donation to MSU as a whole.
And, OTC officials would justifiably be grinning over finishing its first capital campaign. Instead of the $10 million goal, it reached $14.4 million. Major contributors included Reuben and Mary Lou Casey of San Clemente, Calif., the Robert W. Plaster Foundation, businesswoman Carol Jones and a pledge from CoxHealth and St. John's Foundation for Community Health.
These gifts demonstrate a passion for progress in our state and are a sharp contrast to the actions of Missouri government. The budgetary support for higher education in Missouri continues to decline.
State spending on higher education per resident has steadily dropped with Missouri falling from a ranking of 35th out of the 50 states in 1970 to 45th in 2006, according to a2011 status study of Missouridone by the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. OTC, the community college with the least amount of state support, has seen its support for fiscal 2012 drop to 14 percent of its total budget - down from 25.6 percent in fiscal 2001.
So, why should you care? It is our firm belief that all Missourians benefit from a better educational system from K-12 to universities and community colleges. Yes, it is reasonable to expect individuals to pay for the education that will put food on his/her table, as well as, pay for a new car. But it is unreasonable to believe that families will be able to cover nearly the entire cost of these institutions through tuition and fees. Missouri families and their state government must invest for goals that will take years to develop.
Annual budget woes tend to dominate efforts in Jefferson City. Still, it is past time for officeholders and officials to get serious about a long-term strategy for higher education in Missouri. What are the goals? How should Missouri achieve them? How much needs to be spent, as well as, how much are we willing to spend?
Finally, that strategy must be implemented with that passion for progress that has recently been demonstrated.
This editorial is the view of the News-Leader Editorial Board
President and Publisher
David Stoeffler Executive Editor
Don Underwood Opinion Page Editor
Cheryl Whitsitt Managing Editor
Linda Leicht Senior Reporter
[...] let's all give a big "Thank you!" to the folks, foundations and businesses that have given gifts to Missouri State University and Ozarks Technical Community College in recent years.