Lawsuit threatens Lewis and Clark Initiative funding

Institutional News

A recent lawsuit filed threatens funding for $33 million in renovations to Agenstein hall on Western’s campus.

Student loan holders filed a class action lawsuit in Cole County in an attempt to stop the scheduled transfer of $230 million in assets from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA).

In May, the Missouri House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 389, which approved the sale of $350 million in assets of MOHELA to be used for needed capital improvements at higher education institutions across the state through the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative. From the Initiative, Western will receive $30 million from the initiative for renovation and construction of the Agenstein Hall.

The lawsuit filed Aug. 9 by two borrowers, Michael McGennis and Aaron Izadi-Moghadam claims MOHELA is infringing on both its state-mandated mission and its financial responsibility to the students it serves by providing funding for building improvements instead of lower loan interest rates.

Vice President for University Advancement Dan Nicoson said he doesn’t know how this lawsuit will affect the distribution of funds for building projectsacross the state but hopes it will not cause delays.

“I am disappointed to think that this action will adversely affect the students,” Nicoson said. “Delays will make the projects more expensive and delay time from students who will benefit from using the facilities.”

Gov. Matt Blunt, creator of the Lewis and Clark Initiative, has assured the public since its start, that there would not be an adverse affect on students’interest rates.

In a Missouri Western press release President James Scanlon said, “We appreciate the leadership of the governor and the legislature in approving the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative, and we hope for a quick resolution of the lawsuit so
that the projects can move forward.”

Beth Wheeler, director of external relations said it’s great news that the legislature and the governor
understand and approve capital funding for higher education.

“It’ wonderful that students will learn and workin state-of-the-art environments,” Wheeler said.

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