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Columbia Missourian

$4 million from Mizzou Advantage will help close funding gap

By Michael Davis
January 31, 2011 | 12:28 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA —  Mizzou Advantage, an initiative to expand MU’s educational excellence and national stature, is allocating $4 million to help fill gaps in the budget and bolster financial aid funding.

The transfer comes shortly after Gov. Jay Nixon proposed a 7 percent cut in state appropriations for the UM System — a $29.8 million drop in revenue for the system and $12.7 million drop for MU.

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In a recent letter to deans and chairs of departments and colleges, Provost Brian Foster specified how the $4 million will be dispersed. Half will help manage a shortfall in financial aid funding tied to increased enrollments, and the rest will be placed in a reserve fund to fill holes in the 2012 budget and future funding.

“The Mizzou Advantage has a budget, and what we’re taking out will delay the implementation of certain elements, but it’s just a delay,” Foster said.

Program savings will arise by deferring faculty hires, student intern and graduate assistant awards and faculty professional development programs.

“We are not going to do anything that reduces the Mizzou Advantage over the long or intermediate term,” Foster said. “A lot of it is moving forward totally on schedule.”

Mizzou Advantage was unveiled in 2009 as a measure to strengthen key academic areas, such as productivity and quality of faculty and students, instructional programs, grants and other fundraising proposals.

Meg Phillips, program coordinator of Mizzou Advantage, said she believes it will accomplish its objectives despite a cutback in resources.

For example, the program will still award $1 million in grants to potential applicants, she said.

Foster said the contribution represents "a significant amount of money that can help Mizzou Advantage bear its share of the struggle we're in trying to make the fiscal situation work and keep the university on track."

The savings come from a strategic investment fund started a few years ago that funds the budget for Mizzou Advantage, Foster said.