Curators approve appropriations request to state

Friday, July 24, 2009 | 11:59 a.m. CDT; updated 11:33 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 25, 2009

COLUMBIA — To address an almost 10,000-student increase in enrollment over the past decade, the UM System Board of Curators is requesting $8.5 million from the state in operations funding for the 2011 fiscal year. It is part of a much larger appropriations request to be submitted to the state in August. 

From 2000 to 2008, the four-campus system saw a 25 percent increase in enrollment, or about 9,800 students, according to board documents.

"With that increase comes a large strain on a lot of the resources that the university has," said Jennifer Hollingshead, spokeswoman for the UM System.

The board, which met Friday via teleconference, approved a core operations request of $451.5 million, the bulk of which covers salaries. Other operating requests include $43.6 million for health care and programs the university administers on behalf of the state, such as the Missouri Institute of Mental Health and the Missouri Kidney Program. 

Overall, operations requests were 14.8 percent more than last year. UM System President Gary Forsee emphasized that the board shouldn't shy away from requesting the true fiscal needs of the university.

“The state revenue picture into the new fiscal year continues to be a bleak picture. … The forecast is going to require us to continue to be vigilant with our programs and expenditures,” Forsee told the curators.

All nine curators were either on the phone or present in the conference at University Hall, including Wayne Goode of St. Louis and David Bradley of St. Joseph, who were appointed to the board in June by Gov. Jay Nixon. Goode and Bradley, as well as student representative Laura Confer, who is a non-voting member of the board, attended an orientation for new curators on Thursday.

The board voted unanimously to request $528.8 million for capital projects to improve building rehabilitation and construction. In addition, curators are requesting $45 million for the State Historical Society of Missouri. 

At MU, a first-tier request includes almost $50.4 million in state money to renovate College of Engineering building Lafferre Hall, according to board documents. A second-tier request is almost $77.7 million to build a School of Music Facility/Performing Art Center. A third-tier request is almost $34.3 million to renovate to the Arvarh E. Strickland Hall, formally known as the General Classroom Building. In each case, state money would be supplemented by other funds.

In its budget request, the board will emphasize that funding of Lewis and Clark projects are the top priority for capital improvements, Nikki Krawitz, UM system vice president for finance and administration, said during the teleconference. Moving and expanding Ellis Fischel Cancer Center is one of these projects, totaling about $31 million, Krawitz said.

At a future meeting, the board will look at a comprehensive analysis of university health-care facilities, board chairman Bo Fraser stated in his report.

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