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UM Board of Curators Looks to Raise Tuition in Response to Budget Cuts

Columns and Jesse Hall
Adam Procter

The UM Board of Curators may raise tuition for the UM system in the wake of more than $22 million in proposed budget cuts by the Missouri legislature.

At its monthly meeting Thursday and Friday, the UM board discussed seeking a waiver and advocating the for the repeal of Senate Bill 389, a 2007 bill that caps tuition hikes by Missouri public universities.

“I believe that the university would benefit from the repeal of 389 and that the repeal of 389 would not be seen by the university in any way to make decisions that would abuse that repeal process,” board chair Maurice Graham said.

The Curators acknowledged that the university system has pushed to increase enrollment in the last ten years to deal with budget cuts and decreased revenue. But, they said, more students equals more costs in the long-term and funding for research labs and capital improvements has suffered.

They also discussed hiking tuition for more expensive majors like engineering, nursing and physical therapy as well as boosting the focus on online programs and extension services.

An audit released in December by the UM System Review Commission sparked many of their ideas. The commission suggested an overhaul of collective rules and regulations, better data collection so the university system can better evaluate the effectiveness of its programs and the implementation of a freedom of expression policy that would allow faculty to freely express a diversity of opinions.

They said that the incoming Curators that Gov. Eric Greitens is set to appoint should reflect diversity in gender, race and occupation. The Commission was established by the Missouri legislature in May 2016.

Interim President Michael Middleton thinks the university can survive the upcoming year with a possible waiver of the tuition caps but that they’ll have to implement structural changes and find new revenue sources moving forward. Middleton said the tuition increases would be modest and that faculty and student voices would inform any further cuts.

“We’ve all been cutting ourselves to the bone over the last 20 years. And it hurts. This university, is too valuable, too precious to let ourselves die from 1000 duck bites, as they say.”