School to consider merger offer Sunday

MARYVILLE, Mo. -- The board of regents at Northwest Missouri State University will consider Sunday whether to merge the school into the University of Missouri system.

It would be the first formal step in the process of a merger, which must be approved by the governing bodies of both schools and the state legislature.

Officials from both schools expressed hope this week that lawmakers could pass legislation making Northwest a fifth campus in the university system in time for the next school year.

But key lawmakers have said there may not be enough time in the current session to get the measure passed before the scheduled legislative adjournment on May 16.

"The idea is that if we want to try to do anything this legislative session, we need a decision really, really soon," said Tom Vansaghi, Northwest's vice president for university relations.

"We're hoping they'll vote on it, but it's a big decision, and they may decide they need more time."

The Missouri system has just over 60,000 students, while Northwest has about 6,500. Based in Maryville, Northwest has off-campus sites in St. Joseph, North Kansas City, Chillicothe, Trenton and Kirksville.

The merger would be the first major campus addition for the Missouri system since 1963, when it merged with the University of Kansas City and created its St. Louis campus. Founded in Columbia as a land-grant institution in 1839, the university also has a campus in Rolla.

"We determined that it's the right thing to do for the students, the right thing to do for the region and the right thing to do for the two institutions," said Dr. Dean Hubbard, Northwest's president. "It's clear the decision is (the regents'), and I'll support whatever they tell me to do. But there's nothing to be gained by needlessly waiting."

The special meeting Sunday afternoon at Northwest Missouri will be open to the public.

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