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MU Makes Plans for $20M State Funding Cut

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UM Curators are urged to raise tuition at the University of Missouri in Columbia by as much as 7.5 percent.

Interim Chancellor Hank Foley addressed faculty in general meeting Wednesday about budget cuts for 2018. Then, on Thursday, he detailed how much each department might lose in an email.

A newly-introduced Missouri House budget bill is in line with Gov. Eric Grietens original budget proposal and the university will take a 9 percent cut in funds. This translates to about $20 million in government funding for MU’s campus alone.

Foley said administration decided to take funds from cash reserves from each department.

“We treated all auxiliary units the same except for one and the one that we didn't treat the same was the hospital,” he said. “And the hospital, because of their very sizable reserves actually came through and took $3 million of the $20 million off the table.”

However, MU will also lose an additional $5 million in government funding from the medical program where students spend their first two years at the Columbia campus and then their final years on the Springfield campus. That would bring the cut to $25 million.

For each department, money will ultimately be cut from cash reserves about 70 percent of their cuts were determined by cash reserves and 30 percent was determined by Graduate Research Assistant spending.

Chancellor of Finance and MU Budget Director Rhonda Gibler says regardless of budget cuts, university spending had to change.

“We as a university are operating like a person who is living paycheck to paycheck and so now all these pains we're feeling are because we're at that point in time where we can no longer live paycheck to paycheck,” she said.

During the meeting, faculty were given the opportunity to ask questions and voice their opinions. Assistant Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences Noelle Bartlow asked how long new faculty should be expected to hold on.

“It's been very hard for me to find love for the University since getting here and I feel pretty great attachments to other universities I've been at so I guess I'm just wondering, like I said, where's the light?” she asked. “Where's the end? Do we ever, because what I'm hearing from everyone, is it's been never ending crisis mode for a long time. So, when do that stop?”

Other faculty members emphasized their concern for their staff. Research Associate Professor and Direct of the Missouri Cancer Registry and Research Center Jeannette Jackson-Thompson said smaller departments like hers will see cuts in their staff.

"I have this wonderful, dedicated, motivated staff,” she said. “I don't want to lose them.”

Gibler said the reason cuts seem so difficult is because 80 percent of the budget is allocated to staff and faculty salaries. This means departments may have to downsize.

“[People] quickly realize they are cutting people,” she said. “People with faces, people with families, people making a real contribution to their university.”

Thursday’s email also included faculty applications for the Resource Allocation Model Committee and the Capital Financing Committee.

These committees will give faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate input in future overall budget making decisions.

“The work of that committee will be to dig in and understand all those inner workings of why is it that we keep running into these problems,” Gibler said.

Foley said department heads will make the final decision of what will be cut.