A former state senator from Joplin is now helping to guide the future of Missouri Southern, Crowder College, and all higher education across the state.

As a former lawmakers, Gary Nodler has worked on a long list of bills dealing with education. He didn’t expect to be on the other side of those measures, like Senate Bill 389.

“When I wrote the law that gave these powers to the coordinating board, I really never envisioned being a member of the coordinating board,” says Gary Nodler, MO Coor. Board Higher Ed.

But that’s his new role, starting a six year term on the state Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

“Responsible to coordinate all the activities of all the higher education institutions in the state of Missouri,” says Gary Nodler.

Including Missouri Southern and Crowder College – two institutions he has a particular interest in.

“I have a sensitivity to the historical underfunding of our two institutions,” says Nodler.

His first meeting included funding requests for the state budget in 2020. He and other board members endorsed an extra $11 million dollars for Crowder for remodeling projects in Neosho and Cassville and a new diesel technology facility. It would add an extra $40 million for MSSU for renovations at Taylor Performing Arts Center as well as campuswide improvements for utilities, the fiber optic network, and safety.

“I don’t think that the request is overly ambitious in terms of the needs of higher education,” says Nodler.

Of course, he expects budget challenges will likely mean dramatic reductions in those requests by the time the spending plan is final.