Kat Riddler, Managing Editor
On June 2 at 1 p.m., University of Missouri System President Dr. Mun Choi addressed system-wide budget cuts, layoffs, and budget reallocation during a live stream budget address from the University of Missouri-Columbia campus.
Budget downsizing has been a topic of discussion for the whole UM System since legislative funding has been cut by $35.9 million for 2018 and enrollment on all four campuses has been declining.
Dr. Choi said, “We are facing a period of significant budget constraints that will require us to take bold actions to become a stronger academic institution in both the short and long term.”
There are to be 474 administration, faculty, and staff positions eliminated from all four campuses. Choi said about half of those jobs are currently vacant. The Columbia campus is supposed to take the hardest hit. It will lose 307 positions and 135 of those are faculty positions. The University of Missouri-St. Louis will lose 30 positions and 16 of them are faculty. The University of Missouri-Kansas City will lose 51 positions and 29 of them are faculty. Missouri University of Science and Technology will lose 50 positions but no there are faculty spots eliminated.
The system offices will lose 36 positions. This includes closing the system’s federal relations offices in Washington and restructuring its government relations efforts at the state level.
On June 2, Chancellor Thomas George sent a campus wide email encouraging everyone to watch the live stream event. His email also contained information specific to the UMSL campus and invited the campus to a town hall meeting from 10 to 11 a.m. June 7, in the Summit Lounge of the J.C. Penney Building. His email continued, “Following my opening remarks, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Rick Baniak will provide a brief overview of the budget plan. Provost Kristin Sobolik will give an update on the academic review process. We will be available to field any questions related to the budget or other areas of campus operations after those presentations.”
President Choi asked campus leaders to develop plans for budget cuts between 8 and 12 percent in April in preparation to state funding cuts and the falling enrollment.
Choi is calling for another $39 million in strategic investments. Redirecting how money is spent will enable the system to hire 212 faculty members across the system — 161 in Columbia, 25 in Kansas City, 19 in St. Louis and seven at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
The UM System is in the process of hiring a consulting firm to identify areas of duplication on all four campuses in order to cut down waste. The proposal deadline is open till June 9. The hired firm would be required to begin work within 30 days and complete the project within 60 days. Dr. Choi gave an example of students who can take a course online that is very similar on all four campuses. He hopes to create a more centralized platform to teach students on different campuses. Choi noted that the system needed to act more like a system instead of acting like four different universities.
There has been turnover in chancellors of the four campuses within the last couple months as well. Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl Schrader announced on March 6 she would be taking a job in Ohio. Schrader was there since 2012 and was the Rolla campus’ first female chancellor. Dr. Choi announced Dr. Garnett Stokes to serve as interim chancellor of Mizzou effective May 3 and hired Alexander Cartwright on May 24. On May 23, Leo E. Morton, Chancellor of the UMKC since December 2008, announced his intention to retire in spring 2018. So far, Chancellor George has not announced plans of leaving UMSL.
The budget address can be watched here.
People are encouraged to visit the Budget Planning website here for more information.