- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A community development official with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis will fill a vacant seat on the University of Missouri Board of Curators, Gov. Jay Nixon announced Friday.

Yvonne Sparks, assistant vice president and community development officer for the reserve bank of St. Louis, can begin serving immediately but the Missouri Senate must confirm her appointment within the first 30 days of the upcoming session. If she is approved, she would become the second black member and third female member of the nine-person board, which oversees the system’s four campuses.

She joins the board as the system’s flagship Columbia campus is facing racial strife, which led the resignations of President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.

Sparks said the board has “a good deal of work ahead of it” but she didn’t want to comment further on the curators’ oversight of the recent unrest because she hasn’t met board members and doesn’t know the details of their actions.

The unrest in Columbia was one of several similar student actions on college campuses across the country, she said.

“The role of education is to teach young adults how to express themselves, to live in civil society and make apparent what they believe is important to them,” Sparks said. “What we are seeing across the country is what higher education is supposed to do, and people engaging in civil action and being part of their community.”

Sparks received a bachelor’s degree in the Administration of Justice from Missouri-St. Louis, a master’s degree in management and leadership from Webster University, and a master’s degree in public administration from St. Louis University. She also attended a Harvard program for senior executives in government.

Sparks joined the Federal Reserve in 2008 as senior manager of community development, managing staff in offices in Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. She also has served on numerous boards in the St. Louis area.

Sparks will represent the First Congressional District with a term that ends Jan. 1, 2021.

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