Missouri State: one step closer to reality...

Today, the Missouri House Committee on Higher Education released the bill that would change the name of Southwest Missouri State University to Missouri State University for debate on the House floor. As this Springfield News-Leader article says, the debate could begin as soon as next week. If you haven't been following this story, SMSU has been fighting for this name change for almost 20 years, and while I am a big Mizzou fan (considering both my parents are alums), MU has been acting like a big baby fighting it. This year has brought the most favorable set of circumstances for the name change to happen (mainly Springfield-native Gov. Matt Blunt and the centennial of SMSU).

There are many reasons why Missouri State would be a more accurate name than SMSU. It is the second biggest school in the state, and the largest school in the nation with two directions in its name. SMSU has students from every county in Missouri, 49 states, and 82 foreign countries. It's not just a little regional school, as the present name would suggest. The University of Missouri (particularly the Alumni Association) has argued that Missouri State University was the name of MU for many years, and therefore still belongs to them. I haven't heard that sort of argument since I was probably 5 or 6 and I was finished playing with a particular Barbie, but still refused to let my sister play with it, simply because "it's mine!" The truly ridiculous part is that their true concern is that Missouri State University would recieve a larger chunk of state funding than it already is, thereby depriving MU. If they're that hard-up for funds, maybe they could just sell Paige-- er, Mizzou-- Arena and go back to playing basketball in the ramshackle Hearnes Center.

Anyway, the bill was finally passed by the Senate a couple weeks ago after an overnight "debate." It only ended after MU President Elson Floyd emailed Sen. Chuck Graham in the very early morning to tell him to stand down and stop the filibuster after an amendment was added restricting Missouri State from duplicating MU's professional schools (medical, veterinary, etc.) and guaranteeing that MSU wouldn't receive any additional funding simply because of the name change. Now that it's that closer to being passed by the House also, I'm letting myself get a little excited about it. It would be nice to have a degree from Missouri State University.

This letter to the editor in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch is a pretty good summary of the controversy:

Game of the name

In a letter on Monday, Dr. Gordon Christensen decried the theft of a name that the University of Missouri at Columbia has not used in many years. As a former student of the University of Missouri at St. Louis and now a resident of Columbia, it is my opinion that Mizzou would starve every other college and university in this state into extinction to protect its name and finances.

Mizzou has been nothing but an embarrassment to this state in the past 18 months (Ricky Clemons, Carmento Floyd, Quin Snyder, Paige Laurie, etc.) while the rest of the schools in the University of Missouri system are treated as red-headed stepchildren and forced to beg for crumbs left over from Mizzou. I'm sure state Sen. Chuck Graham and University of Missouri President Elson Floyd would say, "Let them eat cake," if they thought they could get away with such behavior.

Bill Stephens
Columbia, Mo.

(via JohnCombest.com)