JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Gov. Matt Blunt intends to nominate former Cape Girardeau mayor Al Spradling III to serve on the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents.
Spence Jackson, Blunt's spokesman, said the governor will formally make the appointment today or Monday.
"He has a real passion for the university," Jackson said of Spradling. "He is and has been active in the community, and the governor believes he will do a fine job representing the interests of the university."
Spradling will fill a Democratic seat on the board currently held by Cape Girardeau lawyer Don Dickerson, the panel's longtime president.
Spradling, 57, said one of the issues he will pursue is how to better fund Southeast's athletics program to ensure it can compete at the NCAA Division I level.
"It is no secret I've been a longtime athletics booster," Spradling said. "I want to have a discussion about the appropriate and proper funding of university athletics, which has suffered in the last few years."
He also wants to examine how to balance rising student tuition against the need to remain academically competitive with other universities in the region.
"Certainly, we want to make the university as affordable as possible for everybody who attends," Spradling said.
State Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, will be responsible for sponsoring the nomination during confirmation proceedings in the Senate.
A confirmation hearing before the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee likely will be held Feb. 2.
Spradling, a lawyer, was Cape Girardeau mayor from 1994 to 2002 following a four-year stint as a city councilman. During his time as mayor, Spradling helped win voter approval of a tax increase for the construction of Southeast's River Campus, a joint venture between the city and university.
Having worked closely with Spradling on that project and others, Southeast president Dr. Ken Dobbins said the former mayor is an excellent choice to be regent.
"This is a positive move," Dobbins said. "When you look at the relationship we've had with the city, Al nurtured that, and it grew under his administration."
Although he welcomes Spradling to the board, Dobbins said the departing Dickerson will be missed. Dickerson's term expired Jan. 1, but he will continue to serve until the Senate approves Spradling's appointment.
"Don, in the 12 years he served on the board, has done a tremendous amount for the university -- more than the public actually knows," Dobbins said.
Spradling's father, the late Al Spradling Jr., served on the board of Southeast's fund-raising foundation and was a state senator from 1952 to 1977.