JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) oversees the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development and approves budget and policy recommendations to the state legislature.
After an amendment was made to the Missouri constitution in 1972, the CBHE was established in the Omnibus State Reorganization Act of 1974.
Among other duties, the CBHE approves policy recommendations to the Missouri General Assembly and is considered by many to be the de facto legislative arm of the Department of Higher Education.
The board is made up of nine members, one from each congressional district and a member at-large, and all are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Missouri Senate. The appointment term for board members is six years and no more than five of the nine members can be affiliated with the same political party.
The Board’s 2021 chair is retired Army Colonel Joe Cornelison. Cornelsion, a Republican from Maryville, graduated from West Point Military Academy and has nine years of experience in higher education law. First serving as a university general counsel, Cornelison eventually moved to the Department of Higher Education and served as the department’s general counsel. He then served as a senior counsel for Husch Blackwell in Kansas City, from which he has since retired.
Vice chair of the board is former State Sen. Gary Nodler who was appointed by Gov. Mike Parson in August 2018 and recently re-elected as vice-chair for 2022. Nodler, a Republican from Joplin, served as Assistant Majority Floor Leader and as chairman of the Education committee, among a host of others. Nodler is also a military veteran, serving in the U.S. Army and the Missouri National Guard.
Democrat Gwendolyn Grant served as Secretary of the CBHE during 2021 and was recently elected to chair the Board in 2022. Grant is heavily involved with the Urban Neighborhood Initiative Board of Directors and the National Association for Multicultural Education. She is also president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, which has taken fire in the past for praising unpopular ideas such as defunding the KCPD and teaching Critical Race Theory in schools.
Grant has also taken criticism for her baseless calls for Chief Rick Smith to resign, disregarding the fact that Smith received the 2021 Clarence M. Kelley for his leadership and has been showered with support from the community.
The complete list of the 2021 board and its officers are as follows:
2021 Board Officers
Joe Cornelison – Chair
Gary Nodler – Vice Chair
Gwendolyn Grant – Secretary (2022 chair)
2021 Board Members
The Board oversees 13 public four-year universities, 14 public two-year colleges, one public two-year technical college, 26 independent colleges and universities and more than 150 proprietary and private career schools.