The man in charge of Missouri’s higher education system seems a lot of opportunities for Missouri colleges and universities.  But he says there’s no doubt one issue is the key to all of them: money.

The coordinating board for higher education has chosen former University of Missouri chief of staff Dave Russell as the new commissioner of higher education. He’s been the acting commissioner for several months.

Russell knows higher education is suffering from three recessions in the last twenty years that have kept higher education from developing initiatives that benefit the state and its economy.  He says higher education has had to go without many things it needs to make its students successful.

But whatever is done, he says, higher education must remain affordable, especially to Missouri’s most disadvantaged population.

Russell says surveys show only 14 out of every 100 Missouri ninth graders will get two-year or four-year college degrees.  He says that kind of “leakage” cannot continue.

AUDIO: Dave Russell & BP talk education (12 min)