What would your response be if I told you a local company was pulling $21 million out of the Columbia economy?
MU Faculty, Staff and Students:
Yesterday, I sent you the letter I signed with fellow Chancellors and Interim President Steve Owens expressing concerns about the Governor’s recommended budget and its implication for the University of Missouri System. The purpose of this message is to convey information specifically related to MU and to express my concern about the budget and the commitment of campus administration to direct resources strategically to our core mission. I want to re-emphasize the three key principles stated in the co-signed letter:
As we determine specific steps to respond to the realities of our budget, we need to understand the critical position of our university:
Ultimately, the citizens of Missouri will determine the level of support that their taxes will provide our university. We will aggressively engage our students, alumni, faculty and staff with our constituents in a conversation that assures their understanding of the implications of these decisions. We need to make it clear that cutting our way to mediocrity is not an option. We must focus and enhance our resources in new ways to serve our students and our state.
Our strategic plan will guide our decisions as to how we meet this budget challenge. We will continue to look at ways of becoming more efficient without sacrificing quality in all that we do.
As always, I welcome your input and thank you for your commitment to excellence that has made MU one of the great flagship universities in the nation.
Brady J. Deaton, Ph.D.
A letter from Interim President Steve Owens and the chancellors of all four UM System chancellors is posted on the system president's website.
What would you say if you knew the corporate CEO said there would be an undisclosed number of job cuts there as a result?
Columbia is a company town, and that company is higher education.
So when the governor pledges a $50 million cut in state appropriations for the University of Missouri System's budget, we all should take note.
The letters emanating from the UM System president and the MU chancellor are dire. They make compelling arguments for the value of higher ed. But after more than a decade of declining support from the state, the points sound all too familiar, at least to a General Assembly that finds higher ed a favorite punching bag.
The letters sent to faculty, staff and students from interim UM President Steve Owens and Chancellor Brady Deaton are polite. If I translated to the simplest terms, though, the message might be this:
Higher ed over the past decade has been successful — MU has increased enrollment by 52 percent, raised a billion dollars and held its own in various academic rankings, says Deaton, while state funding has dropped by $27 million since the ’01 fiscal year. But you can only stretch so far, and this time “doing more with less” hurts everyone in the state. Huh?
The economic fate of the biggest employer in town is a difficult story to tell when your window looks out at Jesse Hall. The trouble is one of distance more than allegiance.
The Missourian resides at a university address. It receives funding from the U. The paychecks of the editor-professors here say University of Missouri on them. That graduation certificate on the wall at my house bears the university seal, and as do those of my wife.
Am I biased then? You bet. If I didn’t believe in the value of higher education, I wouldn’t be here. I’m grateful to have one of the best jobs I could ever imagine.
So how well has the Missourian covered the state appropriations issue over the years?
My hypothesis: Your newspaper has probably underreported it.
Don’t get me wrong. Each year, you’ve read a good bit as the political process wends its way through the state Capitol. You’ve heard the pronouncements from the governor’s office. You’ve watched as the curators try to figure out just how much they might raise tuition without invoking the wrath of Jefferson City.
Rinse and repeat.
But the Missourian could do more.
Part of the reason is in trying to correct for those affiliations — those biases — toward the university. Another reason: Editors ask their student staffs to turn outward. They want this next generation of journalists to connect to the larger community that is Columbia, not the insulated university world they’ve been exposed to previously.
If my hypothesis is correct, then your newspaper needs to do more this time. Not as cheerleader for MU, but as involved community member in College Town, Mo. Your ideas and opinion can help.
Thanks for listening.