The University of Missouri has called off its search for a staff lobbyist to replace employees it laid off in June.
After laying off employees in the University Relations office following system-wide budget cuts, the university started to search for a lobbyist to replace those employees, but they’ve canceled that search.
This means the university is now relying on third party lobbying firms like Clark Hill and Statehouse Strategies.
Jake Haselswerdt is a political science professor at MU and was formerly a lobbyist for universities in Washington D.C. He said lobbyists are an important asset for universities.
“Any university is going to have many issues involving government,” Haselswerdt said. “There’s just a lot of reasons why a University would want to have a voice at the federal level. Then obviously at the state level for public universities a huge portion of their funding comes as a state appropriation.”
He says that public relations issues at MU have played a part in recent state funding cuts, and lobbyists can help protect that funding.
“And as a lobbyist can you prevent all that from happening? No, but sort of like government relations, or public relations I should say, you can try to do some damage control and maybe try to get out ahead of some of that stuff with the legislature to minimize the impact it might have on your funding in the future,” Haselswerdt said.
MU spokesperson Christian Basi said after interviewing multiple candidates University President Mun Choi decided to cancel the search and take more time to decide how to move forward.
“We want to take a look at the current resources that we have, and take a closer look at what the needs are for the campus and the system,” Basi said. “And then take some time to develop a longer term vision for the future of our governmental relations at the university.”
Basi says maintaining close relationships with lawmakers in Jefferson City is a priority.