Curators approve tuition increase while MU falls in ranking

Friday, April 4, 2008 | 6:47 p.m. CDT; updated 9:36 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

ROLLA — The UM System Board of Curators unanimously approved a 4.1 percent tuition increase at its meeting Friday while UM President Gary Forsee reported on a survey that shows MU is falling in one set of rankings.

The curators met at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and voted to increase base tuition for a full-time Missouri undergraduate student from $7,077 to $7,368 for the 2009 fiscal year.

Tuition increases for professional students will range from zero to 4.1 percent. Tuition at MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine will increase by 5.1 percent.

Also unanimously passed were supplemental and other enrollment fees, which in total will increase 4.1 percent, or a maximum of $13.59 per semester for all MU students.

In his first State of the University report since taking office Feb. 18, Forsee presented data from the 2008 U.S. News and World Report ranking of colleges and universities in which MU dropped from 88th in 2007 to 91st this year. Although the magazine’s ranking is just one of many available ranking systems, Forsee said many parents and students use it as a source for their research and college choices and that it should be acknowledged.

Since 2004, the year Forsee used as the base year for many of his percentage comparisons, MU has dropped 18 spots in the U.S. News and World Report ranking.

The university has seen a 4 percent increase in instructional expenditures in the time frame, and enrollment has increased by 12 percent, he said.

None of the other institutions consistently used for comparison in Forsee’s presentation — the University of Texas-Austin, the University of Kansas, the University of Colorado-Boulder, Texas A&M University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Iowa State University — had an enrollment increase of more than 5 percent.

However, MU had the lowest average faculty salary among the institutions compared in Forsee’s presentation.

Since 2004, the university’s full-time equivalent expenses have dropped 7.5 percent, according to the presentation. Of the other schools compared with MU, only Texas A&M had a negative change in FTE expenses, and the other five universities all have seen double-digit percentage increases in the same category.

In the U.S. News ranking, faculty resources account for one-fifth of the ranking total.

St. Louis curator David Wasinger said he wanted more attention paid to MU as the flagship campus. He expressed concern about growing class sizes at MU, while campuses such as the Missouri University of Science and Technology have limited class sizes.

Wasinger said he thinks the Rolla campus could leapfrog MU in some survey rankings in three years.

He questioned whether the system’s role is to allow as many people as possible into the Columbia campus or view MU as a “prestige institution” with more selectivity.

Cheryl Walker, chairwoman of the Board of Curators, also from St. Louis, said all four campuses — not just MU — should be centers of prestige within the system.

However, she lauded MU on its recent cost-cutting and fundraising measures.

“The Columbia campus has proven they’ve done more with less” in comparison with peer institutions, Walker said.

At a faculty meeting earlier this week, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton pledged to continue to look for ways to bring wages closer to the median level of fellow public Association of American Universities institutions. To that end, Forsee said he hopes to organize a day-and-a-half retreat to hammer out the system’s strategic planning for the next five to 10 years.

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Ellis Smith April 5, 2008 | 8:36 a.m.

Rolla campus today operates using plans specifically aimed at raising its national standing. That's a stated goal! We invite Curator Wasinger or anyone else to discuss goals and objectives with Missouri S&T.

The enrollment contrast between the Columbia and Rolla campuses has always been great, running between 5/1 and 6/1 over the past 138 years.

Mrs. Walker, who matriculated at and received her degree from Rolla campus, is correct that all four campuses should be centers of excellence. No multi-campus institution is better than its weakest campus, although there's a question as to exactly which campus that is.

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