While politicians in Jefferson City discuss how to delegate funding and resources for public higher education, MU has its own grassroots advocacy coalition lobbying to steer the results in the best interest of the university.
The Mizzou Legislative Network is a grassroots advocacy coalition and committee in the Mizzou Alumni Association with a mission to uphold higher education by influencing public policy and shaping political events.
“The organization was formed to give the alumni and friends of the university the opportunity to influence the legislature on behalf the university,” MU Legislative Network Chair Wally Pfeffer said.
The MLN has a long history of uniting the MU community, M. Dianne Drainer, Mizzou Network Legislative Liaison and Advocacy Director, said.
“The Mizzou Legislative Network committee was initially called LINC, Legislative Information Network Committee,” Drainer said. “The name was changed to Mizzou Legislative Network. The committee is a family of alumni, students, parents, faculty staff and friends of the university. Over the last four years, we have grown to over 4,500 Mizzou advocates.”
The network’s main responsibility is to contact the legislators about university funding and particular bills that would be important for the university.
“For instance, the network allowed the state to sell bonds to do construction to elevate the university buildings, not only at Mizzou, but also at (other) higher education institutions,” Pfeffer said.
To put everyone under its umbrella and benefits, the committee works together to make sure that everybody is well educated on the legislative issues that combine higher education and MU, Pfeffer said.
“The spirit of the organization is to strengthen our Mizzou advocates to stand up for Mizzou, which is a campaign we started one year ago,” Drainer said. “The goal is to reach out to everyone, to put the emphasis on and support for the best higher education public policy for our flagship university.”
Drainer said that the factual information on legislative issues is the most meaningful part because it can impact higher education and higher education policy.
Pfeffer said the essence of the network is influence, and people who join in the network can get a lot from it.
“We have Mizzou family to reach out to their legislators to influence things positively, which can benefit our university, and that is the core mission we need to accomplish,” Pfeffer said. “Also, people can get a great deal of satisfaction in helping the committee and (the MLN members) push the legislation that we need to see done.”
Although the coalition has exerted a lot of effort to do a good job, by attending the university-wide Legislative Day at the Capitol for instance, Drainer said, it still has a long-term plan for the future.
“The future of the organization is to continue to be proactive in supporting higher education public policies and strengthening the university,” Drainer said.