Diversity, MU budget discussed at the Spring General Faculty Meeting

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | 10:08 p.m. CDT; updated 11:49 a.m. CDT, Thursday, April 19, 2012

COLUMBIA — MU faculty members are working to develop future plans for the university, including ones for the Chancellor's Diversity Initiative and MU's budget.

About 35 MU faculty members met at the Spring General Faculty Meeting on Wednesday.

Past and projected enrollment was the first topic of discussion. MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said that MU currently educates 25 percent of students in Missouri who receive higher education degrees and the total number of enrolled students continues to grow. 

This year MU has 2,087 full-time faculty and instructors, according to the university's website. That figure excludes employees of MU Health Care and international visiting faculty. 

Diversity at MU

Deaton said the enrollment of minority students has been increasing. According to the MU Division of Enrollment Management, in 2011 there was an increase of 211 African American, 45 Asian and 95 Hispanic students and 182 students of multiple races from 2010. 

In this same year, the total number of undergraduate students increased by 1,123. 

Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton said there have also been more reports of bullying and harassment, based on a 2009 campus climate survey. One major form of this harassment, Middleton said, was cyberbullying.

Middleton thinks the increase in such reports is the result of tension between different groups of people.

In response to the growing tension, a program is being created to address the promotion of "civility" on campus. Noel English, the director of MU Equity for the Chancellor's Diversity Initiative, will head the effort.

English said the results of the 2009 campus climate survey showed that all types of groups, not only minorities, sometimes felt discriminated against at MU. 

"It's not just the minority people that are feeling harassed," she said. "It's the atheists. It's the conservatives. It's all sorts of people."

The program will set out to create events and discussions at both the campus and classroom levels that address MU's goal to celebrate diversity and prevent discrimination. English hopes faculty, staff and students will work to do their parts to contribute to this plan. 

"The idea is we want every unit to think about what it means to them," English said. 

The MU budget

MU Budget Director Tim Rooney sees the increasing enrollment numbers as a form of revenue. Rooney also said that enrollment in online classes contributes to tuition revenue. 

Faculty Council Chairman Harry Tyrer said the Faculty Council was working on definitions and budgets for these online classes, especially in light of the UM System discussions of an eLearning portal.

Currently, 55 percent of revenue from online classes goes to the unit the class is under, 25 percent goes to Mizzou Online and 20 percent goes to the provost's office, Tyrer said. These percentages are being looked at, he said, to make them compatible with that of regular classes. 

Revenue from on-campus classes goes to the university's general operating fund, MU spokesman Christian Basi said.

Tuition revenue, along with state appropriations, which Rooney said are $13 million dollars lower than last year's funds, are helping to offset costs in next year's budget.

Some of these costs include a proposed 2 percent merit-based salary increase for MU faculty and projects including the construction of a patient care tower for MU Health Care, which will cost $203 million, and the renovation of Gwynn Hall, which will cost $12 million.

Rooney also discussed plans for Residential Life, Athletics and Health Sciences, which will fund their own projects in order to accommodate rising enrollment.

Reductions in spending also contributed to balancing the budget, Rooney said. One cut that raised questions among faculty was that of the "managing innovation" division in the Mizzou Advantage program. This program brings faculty together to discuss topics including food of the future, media of the future, health and renewable energy. The cut saved the program $350,000.

Wilma King, director of the MU Black Studies Program, asked how this cut would affect MU and how it would be made up for. Brian Brooks, associate dean of the School of Journalism, said that the program was not eliminated but rather it was folded into the four other facets of the program. 

Other questions addressed by faculty include the future of the bus transportation system on campus and how outside funding will be defined.

Deaton said he didn't not have comprehensive answers to these questions as of Wednesday's meeting. Transportation was still being discussed, and Deaton said he would look into the definition of the funding and bring it up at a meeting on Thursday.

The meeting will be from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Mark Twain Ballroom of Memorial Union and is meant to discuss the strategic plan for MU. 

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