From 2008 to 2011, I had the honor of coaching MU's fencing program. During that time, we grew from a Tier 3 club to Tier 1 — just shy of varsity status. MU's fencing squad has repeatedly ended up at national championships, sometimes close to the top. This was partially due to unending work put in by student-athletes; they ran the club, conducted the logistics of tournaments and trained endlessly to become one of the greatest squads of fencers in the Midwest.
It was also due to the generous support given to us by the university. We were given funding for equipment, which can be expensive. We were given travel funding to spread the fame of Missouri Athletics. If we worked hard, the university worked just as hard in funding us. From a coaching standpoint, we never felt unsupported. I thank the university for its past and continued attention to the unparalleled athletic programs at MU.
However, this reflects disparity in funding for academia, ostensibly a university’s primary mission. The ‘reorganization’ of the University of Missouri Press publicly states that the university administration isn’t interested in educating balanced members of society. It is interested in making money. This philosophy is reflected in other imbalances; doctoral candidates in humanities at MU work minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. The Art History & Archaeology departments hold bake sales in order to fund seminars.
This is shameful.
A good university seeks balance: To ensure the physical lives of students match the mental ones, to produce healthy, thinking members of society who can look back on any aspect of their student experience with fondness and unity and to ensure that every department of MU is fully funded and supported. The philosophy of this administration runs the real risk of brain-drain at MU, leaving it an academic laughing-stock. I urge the administration to fund all aspects important to a university. Make all things Mizzou as great as the athletics program.
William Chisenhall was the head coach of MU Fencing from 2008 to 2011. He lived in Columbia until late 2011. He coaches men's rugby at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.