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University of Missouri

Advocates for Higher Education

The Mizzou Legislative Network honors Geyer Award winners.

Mike Parson and Wally Pfeffer

State Sen. Mike Parson, left, and Wally Pfeffer won 2014 Henry S. Geyer Awards, presented by the Mizzou Legislative Network. Photo by Rob Hill.

Henry Geyer was the name on the lips of Mizzou alumni leaders and Missouri legislators at a Jan. 12 reception in Jefferson City. They gathered to fete winners of an award named for the lawyer and lawmaker born in 1790 who drafted legislation creating the University of Missouri in 1839. The Mizzou Alumni Association’s Mizzou Legislative Network has presented two such awards annually since 1992 to a public official and a private citizen who have improved the situation of higher education and Mizzou. The recipients for 2014 are Mutual of Omaha agent Wally Pfeffer of Columbia, and state Sen. Mike Parson of Bolivar, Missouri.

Pfeffer, who graduated from MU in 1989, served as chair of the Mizzou Legislative Network Committee from 2009 to 2013 and remains a member of the committee. The network is a grassroots advocacy coalition of Mizzou alumni, students and friends who volunteer to contact legislators about issues of import to the university. During Pfeffer’s time as chair, he testified before House and Senate committees regarding higher education funding and scholarships and legislation to create citizen-approved consolidated extension districts. During his tenure, network membership grew to more than 5,000. Pfeffer’s volunteer work for the Boone County Chapter of the alumni association spans three decades, and he served on the association’s national governing board three times from 1994 to 2013.

In 2014, Parson led the effort to increase Missouri’s bonding capacity so that key maintenance and repair work could take place. The first such project funded at Mizzou is Lafferre Hall, which houses engineering programs. Parson represents the 28th District in the Missouri Senate, which includes Barton, Benton, Cedar, Dallas, Henry, Hickory, Pettis, Polk and St. Clair counties. After serving as Polk County sheriff for 12 years, Parson won election to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2004. He is Senate majority whip; vice chair of the agriculture, food production and outdoor resources committee; and he serves on the small business, insurance and industry committee. Parson owns and operates a cow-calf operation near Bolivar.