– Jubilee Flashback: In 1997, some felt that an SGA President’s role was to pursue the position of Student Representative to UM Board of Curators.
By Albert Nall, Staff Writer for The Current
The role of a Student Representative to the University of Missouri Board of Curators is what it has always been: to represent student interests of the University of Missouri campuses. However, in 1997, the need for student representation within the UM system was met with indifference.
In 1997, The Current reported on the lack of students applying for the position. At that time, there was only one application taken. That application was picked up by Josh Stegman, a sophomore majoring in Chemistry/Biology. Stegman expressed hearty enthusiasm at the prospect of being an influence on the UM Board. However, Stegman failed to turn in a completed application.
At the time, though he did not apply, SGA president Jim Avery Avery was viewed by many. Avery was cited by student leaders as being articulate and experienced in addressing ideas in public. Furthermore, Avery was involved with the newly re-established Intercampus Student Council, the body of elected student officials from all 4 of the University of Missouri campuses.
In the end, Avery opted out of the candidacy for the Student Representative position. Avery had turned over the customary role of the SGA President in the Student Representative selection process over to Vice President Michael Rankins. Because of this, there were many who concluded that Avery’s actions were indeed a prelude to his entering the running for the position.
However, The Current voiced concerns as to whether the obligations as SGA president created a conflict of interest in terms of the responsibilities of the Student Representative. Would the values of UMSL students be served if the same person served both as the SGA President and the Student Representative?
Many on the UMSL campus felt it was the duty of Avery as the SGA President to ascend into the UM Board. On page 4 of the September 8issue of The Current, an editorial stated that Avery should either officially make himself a candidate for the student curator position or offer an explanation for removing himself from the selection process.
For some, the position of the Student Representative on the UM Board of Curators is a prestigious and life-changing position. Past representatives have gone on to become members of Congress; many maintain successful careers in the fields of law and business. Others could speculate that Student Life leaders on the UMSL campus were happier working within their own constituencies on campus. Furthermore, the fact that the Student Representative does not have a vote may have dissuaded those for whom simply having a voice at meetings wasn’t enough.
During the late ’90s, the SGA President earned $4,700 a year, with the Vice President earning $4,200 and the Comptroller earning $1,500. It was also reported by The Current that the ’96-’97 SGA President, Bob Fritchey, billed the SGA $1,212.81 for travel to the Board of Curator’s meetings, and this represented 2.7% of the budget. The Student Representative of the UM Board of Curators receives no salary but does get a stipend for travel expenses to board meetings.
The last Student Representative from UMSL was Maria Kerford, who was appointed to the position by former Governor Matt Blunt in 2005. Kerford, an English major at the Pierre Laclede’s Honor College, was a member of the University Senate during her time as an undergraduate. She was also a New Student Mentor, a member of the 2002 Chancellor Search Committee, a University Singer and an UMSL Trailblazer in 2006. Today, Kerford is a philanthropy adviser at Youthbridge Community Foundation in St. Louis. She is also on the board of Project Inc., a nonprofit sheltered workshop, and is on the Board of Directors of the UM Alumni Association.
The qualifications for the Student Representative to the UM Board of Curators include an emphasis on extracurricular activities, awards and honors, and leadership and volunteer experience. Regardless of whether this is alluring to student government leaders on the St. Louis campus, the qualifications for the office is the same as it always have been throughout the University of Missouri’s history. Let’s just hope that this time, the position will be met with more interest than it was in 1997.
© The Current 2013