- Associated Press - Friday, September 29, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The University of Missouri Board of Curators has agreed to changes seeking to stabilize the university system’s finances in the face of reduced state aid and the likelihood lawmakers won’t increase funding in the near future.

The board on Thursday approved a new process for approving construction projects and discussed how to raise faculty and staff salaries as it worked on five-year budget plans, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

With declining state support, the board voted to end the traditional practice of allowing each campus to pick a top priority project and submit it to the state Department of Higher Education for submission, which then went to the curators. In the future, curators will approve each project before fundraising can begin, financial officer Ryan Rapp said.

The change came after the curators approved four construction requests - one for each campus - at their July meeting while knowing that the state would provide little money for the projects. A project that was not on the curators’ previous lists, a $96 million music and performing arts campus in Kansas City, won legislative approval for bond financing that was vetoed by Gov. Eric Greitens.

“The purpose of this is to have the system board and president driving strategic change,” said curator David Steelman of Rolla.

The curators also discussed staff and faculty discontent, after recent surveys for each campus and the system administration found 53 percent of staff seriously considered leaving their jobs in the past year, with 61 percent of those citing salary as the main concern. Another major concern was a lack advancement opportunities.

Barbara Bichelmeyer, interim chancellor for Missouri-Kansas City, said money to respond to those concerns will come from students, not the state.

“We’re not waiting on the Legislature for anything ever again,” Bichelmeyer said. “Our primary revenue source is going to be tuition. We have got to figure out what students need and deliver on it.”

She said each program will be evaluated to determine if there is enough demand to keep it.

“If you are in a program that is losing money we need you to lose less and if you are making money we need you to make more,” Rapp said.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, tuition revenue system-wide was down $30 million and state aid declined $21 million. Enrollment also dropped and in June Choi announced $100 million in budget cuts that eliminated 500 jobs throughout the system.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com

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