JEFFERSON CITY - The University of Missouri will retain its title as Missouri's only public university - for now.
The Senate postponed debate on a bill Wednesday, that would have changed the name of Southwest Missouri University to Missouri State University, an action that Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, said effectively makes the issue "dead."
The decision was made after more than two hours of discussion dominated by Jacob, the bill's strongest opponent. He had previously pledged to do everything in his power to prevent its passage, including filibustering the bill when it reached the Senate floor.
"This is one of the worst bills I've seen in my 20 years in the legislature," said Jacob. "It's bad public policy."
Proponents of the name change cite Southwest's statewide mission and growing number of students from outside Southwest Missouri as reason for the change.
Sen. Roseann Bentley, R-Springfield, the bill's sponsor, blamed what she called opposition from UM as a barrier to the development of higher education Missouri.
The University has taken no official stance on the issue.
"In changing the name we would be greatly enhancing all the universities in the state," said Bentley. "As each university in the state reaches its fullest potential, everyone in the state benefits."
Although the Senate could bring the issue back up for debate, many legislators say that is not likely because there is less than two weeks left in the legislative session.
The legislation would have also amended the title of three other colleges, including Harris-Stowe, Missouri Southern, and Missouri Western, to university.
Jacob offered an amendment to the bill that would have authorized the Coordinating Board of Higher Education to examine the possibility of adding Southwest Missouri State to the University of Missouri system. The bill was tabled before a vote could be taken.
"This issue has been around for 20 years and I want to see it resolved," Jacob said.