Parson, Pfeffer win 2014 Geyer Award

The award celebrates advocacy for and contributions to MU.
Portrait of Wally Pfeffer, who was named as a recipient for the Mizzou Alumni Association's 2014 Geyer Award on Jan. 12, 2015. Courtesy of the Mizzou Alumni Association

A state senator and a legislative advocate were named as recipients for the Mizzou Alumni Association’s 2014 Geyer Awards on Jan. 12.

The two men, Wally Pfeffer and Missouri Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, were commended for their efforts to influence higher education public policy in Missouri at a reception for the award. Recipients are chosen based on their advocacy and contributions to MU.

The award was named after Representative Henry Geyer of St. Louis, who authored the Geyer Act of 1839 that established MU, said Lesa McCartney, chairwoman of the Mizzou Legislative Network (MLN), a Mizzou Alumni Association group. The award was first presented in 1992.

“This award recognizes the work of public officials and citizens who have made a positive impact on higher education and Mizzou,” McCartney said.

Parson said he was grateful for his award.

“I am very humbled and honored to receive this award,” Parson said. “Ten years ago when I entered into the legislature, I would have never thought I would be the recipient of such an award.”

McCartney said Parson advocated for higher education as a state representative and Missouri senator. Parson has developed legislation in the Missouri House and Senate to support higher education for years.

“This past year, he was instrumental in shepherding Senate Bill 723 to final passage and also strongly supported House Bill 2012,” McCartney said. “Without his support, it is unlikely that either bill would have obtained final passage.”

The two bills regulated funding going toward higher education.

“My work throughout my time in the legislature supporting education reflects my commitment to higher education, specifically my work last year through Senate Bill 723 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 39 to support repairs and renovations to the university’s infrastructure,” Parson said.

But Parson stressed the importance of continuing the work.

“We need to continue to make higher education accessible and affordable for all,” Parson said. “It is through our higher education efforts our state will prosper and thrive for decades to come, as a skilled and educated workforce is created.”

Parson said students and their education will play a significant role in the future of the state.

“There will come a time when the reins of our nation's governance will be passed to the next generation,” Parson said. “We have a duty to prepare our youth, to educate them, to guide them and to equip them with the tools they need to succeed in today's global market.”

McCartney also detailed the accomplishments of Pfeffer, a current member of the MLN.

“For over twenty years, Pfeffer has been one of the most active legislative advocates for the University of Missouri,” she said.

From 1995 to 2011, Pfeffer served on the board of the MU Political Action Committee and was Chair of the Committee from 2005 to 2011. From 2009 to 2013, he served as chariman of the Mizzou Legislative Network. During the past legislative session, Pfeffer worked to promote passage of House Bill 2012 and Senate Bill 723.

“In addition to Wally’s contributions legislatively, Wally has been a life member of the MAA for 30 years and has contributed his time and efforts to the university in many other ways,” McCartney said.

McCartney said she hopes students will recognize, respect and value the work these individuals are doing in order to advance MU.

“Due to the incredible efforts of these award recipients and previous award recipients, the students of the University are benefiting from state funding that supports the higher education provided by a nationally recognized AAU university — with quality faculty, facilities and research,” McCartney said. “Their education holds value and benefits for their future.”

Pfeffer has been heavily involved in the advancement of MU through public policy. While serving from 2009-2013 as the chairman of the MLN, he testified before House and Senate committees regarding the advancement of higher education.

There, he discussed equalizing state-funded scholarships, 50/50 capital matching, consolidating extension districts and other types of funding towards higher education.

“I had the opportunity to testify on several issues that came out well,” Pfeffer said.

Pfeffer also spoke on how integral MU students are in his work and how his work has impacted them.

“The students have been some of our most important partners in the last few years because funding from the state and governor directly impacts tuition and staff salaries, and as a result directly impacts the value of their education,” Pfeffer said.

Pfeffer said he was honored to receive the award and was happy to see the acknowledgement of longtime efforts.

“It’s a recognition of the work that so many of us have done over the years to try to influence the political process in a positive way for higher education and our university in particular,” Pfeffer said.

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