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Politics

Senate Panel Considers SMS Name Change

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/senatepane_2320.mp3

Legislation changing the name of Southwest Missouri State University went before a Senate committee Tuesday. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The Senate Education Committee took public testimony on the bill that would drop the regional designation from the name of Southwest Missouri State University.

The bill sponsor, Springfield Senator Norma Champion.

Most of the bill's opponents have ties to the University of Missouri'They say the name change would take away resources from the MU system.

And besides that, former MU Curator John Lichtenegger says giving SMS the name Missouri State University would be false advertising.

Columbia Senator Chuck Graham say the name Missouri State University already belongs to the University of Missouri.

But supporters of the SMS name change contend the University of Missouri can't have two names.

In fact, Senator Norma Champion says the name change has little to do with MU.

But some people with ties to the University of Missouri don't see it that way.

Senator Chuck Graham says he'd consider letting SMS have almost any name'any name except Missouri State University.

But name change supporters dispute Graham's claim that the name belongs to MU.

And supporters say the name not only reflects what SMS has become but will be an economic development tool for Springfield.

Sandy Howard, the Public Affairs Manager for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce told the Senate Education Committee why the name change is a priority for the chamber.

And name change supporters say bringing more businesses to the state will mean more tax revenue and that will mean more money for higher education.

But opponents say the name change debate is distracting lawmakers and the public from the critical issue of finding more money for universities and colleges in Missouri.