Board swears in new student curator

The curators also voted on legal services expansion and a new spending plan.

The UM system Board of Curators swore in a new student curator, voted down the expansion of Student Legal Services and approved a new spending plan at its meeting Thursday and Friday at University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Laura Confer, a mechanical engineering student at Missouri University of Science and Technology, as the new student curator on the board, replacing Tony Luetkemeyer, who held the position since July 2007. The Board of Curators swore her in Thursday.

Although the student curator is not allowed a vote, Confer, 19, will serve as the student representative on the board until the end of her term Jan. 1, 2010.

Confer, a junior, is considerably younger than Luetkemeyer was when he was appointed to the position during his second year of law school at MU.

According to a Missouri S&T news release, Confer served as vice president of Phi Eta Sigma honorary society in the 2008-09 school year and will become president of the organization in the fall.

The push by the Missouri Students Association and the Graduate Professional Council to expand SLS ended with a tie vote by the curators Friday. The even vote means a SLS attorney will not be representing students in landlord/tenant cases in court, as MSA and GPC had proposed.

MSA President Jordan Paul said the vote was especially surprising because the proposal was presented to the board by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs and UM system President Gary Forsee.

“On many issues that MSA brings to the Board of Curators, the administration is on a different page and what’s really surprising about this vote is that, for once, the administration and ourselves were on the same page,” Paul said.

The proposal’s approval would have lifted the prohibition put on SLS preventing the department from representing students in court, but instead SLS will continue to provide legal consultation to students.

Paul said the proposal was modeled after the University of Kansas’ legal services system, which allows university attorneys to represent students.

Although Forsee recommended MSA and GPC revise the proposal, Paul said he wasn’t sure what the next step would be.

“I don’t know what else we could have done,” he said. “The proposal was about as watered down as it can get already.”

The Board of Curators also approved a $2.466 billion spending plan Friday. The plan anticipates a $13 million net increase across the UM system in student fees and tuition, even as tuition rates remain flat, due to increased enrollment on all campuses.

The almost $2.5 billion is $73 million more in expenses than last year’s plan and the budget adds $56.6 million to the system’s reserve fund, which remains unrestricted and totals more than $630 million.

The budget also accounts for $370 million in bonds that are planned to be issued in July and will pay for construction projects and renovations across the system. The projects include a new University Hospital building that will eventually house the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

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