UM Intercampus Faculty Council talks potential cuts in closed meeting

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 | 4:29 p.m. CST; updated 8:59 p.m. CST, Tuesday, December 9, 2008

COLUMBIA — The UM System Intercampus Faculty Council met Tuesday with President Gary Forsee to discuss options in light of possible budget cuts for the next fiscal year, confirmed Jennifer Hollingshead, assistant director of strategic communication.

But Hollingshead said she didn't know what was discussed in the closed meeting and would not be able to release any documents distributed during it.

Because the council members are neither elected nor appointed, she said, the meeting is not subject to the Sunshine Law, which requires that meetings of public governmental bodies be open.

"This isn't a governmental body, so I think there's just the freedom to go ahead and close those meetings," Hollingshead said.

MU representatives to the council were Tom Phillips, professor of biological sciences, J. Wilson Watt, associate professor of social work, and William Wiebold, professor of plant sciences. They were unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

Presidents and chancellors of Missouri’s public colleges and universities received a memo Dec. 2 from the state Department of Higher Education, warning them of potential budget cuts of 15 to 25 percent in fiscal year 2010.

An e-mail sent over the weekend from Steve Graham, UM System interim vice president for academic affairs, asked the council members to come to Tuesday's meeting with ideas from their colleagues for ways the system could cope with those budget cuts.

Phillips said at last week's Faculty Council meeting that he also anticipated learning more details of the system-wide hiring freeze at Tuesday's meeting.

Meanwhile, MU's human resources office is not currently accepting paperwork for graduate student assistantships, "even those that are routine and that we’ve already made offers on," according to an e-mail sent Tuesday by the School of Journalism to journalism graduate students.

According to the e-mail, MU deans have been asked to submit to Chancellor Brady Deaton a list of all graduate assistantships, as well as open faculty and staff positions that had not been offered to candidates before the freeze was announced Nov. 17.

The positions will be subject to review and approval by Deaton, according to the e-mail.

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