Two of the eight members of a commission charged with reviewing the University of Missouri are persons of color: Maryville University professor Pamela Washington and Kansas City attorney Michael Williams.
Representative Bonnaye Mims (D-Kansas City), who is also a member of the legislature’s Black Caucus, said diverse representation on the commission is important.
“When I look at sensitivity, I look at the make up of the racial piece. If you can’t comprehend what’s going on, relate to what’s happening, deal with the sensitive issues, I don’t care if you’re pink with green polka dots, you’re not going to make a change,” said Mimms.
She’s not sure if the commission will make a difference.
“If nothing has been done with the Curators and everyone that they’ve had in there for 30 years, what can they do this year? I would hope and love to think that they’re going in there aggressively and making some changes. I really do. I intend to stay on top of it to ensure that these kids are being taken care of,” said Mims.
During the application review process, House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) said the panel must be ethnically diverse. The eight-member panel was formed after racial turmoil on campus last fall.
Richardson also appointed Wednesday Jeanne Sinquefield, wife of investment firm founder and major conservative campaign backer Rex Sinquefield, former MU System President Gary Forsee, and Texas Tech Vice President for Strategic Research Initiatives Robert Duncan.
Senate President Ron Richard announced his appointees earlier this month: Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging CEO and 2012 GOP gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence of St. Louis; Missouri Soybean Association District 4 director and Bredehoft Farms owner Neal Bredehoeft; and conservative talk show host Renee Hulshof, the wife of former congressman and 2008 GOP gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof.
The panel was approved by the legislature and proposed by Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) to try and stop some lawmakers from making significant budget cuts to the University system in response to its handling of racial protests on the Columbia campus last fall.
The commission is charged with examining the university’s rules and regulations, administrative and campus structures and degree and diversity programs. It will recommend changes by the end of this year.