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Merger, finances, consolidation seen as issues for UM in 2004

Sunday, January 11, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:23 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

A story on page 8A Sunday mischaracterized the duties of the new executive director of University of Missouri Health Care. He will oversee the university hospitals and clinics, but his duties will not include administration of the MU School of Medicine.

When MU Chancellor Richard Wallace announced his retirement last July, University of Missouri system President Elson Floyd said the university was entering a year of transition. The transition included a series of changes and decisions in both administration and academics, most of which should see a resolution in 2004.

The year ended in turmoil as the university was shaken by the Ricky Clemons scandal. On tapes released in December by the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, the former MU basketball player talks to Floyd’s wife, Carmento Floyd, and Amy Stewart, the wife of MU associate athletics director Ed Stewart. The conversations contained racial remarks that sparked controversy about the Floyds’ and Stewarts’ relationships with Clemons.

Mary James, president of the University of Missouri Board of Curators, said she hopes the actions of the university in 2004 will speak for themselves and will help the institution regain any credibility it might have lost as a result of the scandal.

“If we continue to do our job, the whole issue will get behind us,” James said.

The system’s plans for 2004 include a proposed merger with Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, a possible consolidation of UM system and MU administrative chief positions and a likely increase in educational fees.

MU Provost Brady Deaton said the campus will continue on its path of becoming a more prominent research institution.

“I think the thrust in the life sciences will continue in a major way,” Deaton said.

MU’s new Life Sciences Center will open in May or June. An on-campus faculty will move in during the summer, Deaton said. The center’s staff will be comprised of about 40 percent campus faculty and 60 percent new hires.

Merger with Northwest Missouri State University

In April 2003, the UM system and Northwest Missouri State started negotiations to make the Maryville school the fifth campus of the system, which now includes Columbia, Rolla, St. Louis and Kansas City. Steve Lehmkuhle, UM System vice president for academic affairs, said officials on both campuses have identified the major issues and are addressing them in a “memorandum of understanding,” which could be discussed publicly as early as the next curators meeting on Jan. 29-30.

Northwest President Dean Hubbard said the memorandum is now in the hands of the system for review. It needs to be agreed upon by both universities’ boards and would then need legislative approval to make the merger official.

“At this point, there is no plan to prepare legislation to do that directly,” Lehmkuhle said. Still, he added, this could be attached to other legislative initiatives, if proper ones arise.

Hubbard said that if the two institutions move quickly, the merger could be finalized during this legislative session that runs through May 14.

The concerns addressed by the memorandum are the differences in educational fees, admission standards and programmatic development and also Northwest’s name. UM system schools get the name of the town in which they are located, but Northwest would like to be known as University of Missouri-Northwest at least for the next 10 years.

Lehmkuhle said he doesn’t see any “deal-breaker issue” ahead and hopes a decision will be reached in the next six months to a year.

“It is in the best interest of both institutions to bring this to closure as soon as possible,” he said.

Budget for fiscal year ‘05

The system’s budget for fiscal year 2005 will likely demand another increase in educational fees, but the goal is to hold it to the inflation level, said Nikki Krawitz, UM system vice president for finance and administration. Last year, the system raised fees by almost 20 percent for in-state undergraduates.

With the state still evaluating its shortfall, estimated anywhere between $150 million and $1 billion, Krawitz said the university hopes to get the $476.5 million it requested for fiscal year 2005. Fiscal years run from July 1 to June 30.

“Our priority is to get what we requested,” Krawitz said. “Our second priority would be to get not less than what we got this year.”

In fiscal year 2004, the university received $388 million out of the $565 million it requested. To balance the budget, Krawitz said, the system is looking at ways to increase enrollment and private funding and to reduce expenditures.

The university also hopes to see a $190 million bond proposal pass this legislative session. The money would help the system strengthen its research capacities in the life sciences area, Krawitz said. More than $100 million would help projects at MU.

UM-MU consolidation

Last year, calling for drastic measures due to state budget cuts, Floyd announced the consolidation of administrative positions and functions between the UM system and MU. In the turmoil of the Clemons tapes, Floyd delayed announcing his decision, initially scheduled for December’s curators meeting.

Floyd said the positions of president and chancellor must remain separate, but one person can still hold both jobs. Consolidation might again be addressed at this month’s curators meeting, but the agenda has not been released yet.

“We all feel that the sooner we can gain clarity there, the better off we’ll be,” Deaton said.

However, James said she does not expect to hear anything about consolidation this month.

Consolidation might also see changes in overlapping administrative structures of campus and system. Deaton said plans have been developed by similar system and campus offices to achieve efficiency.

The efficiency goals can be met by reducing duplication in positions and reducing costs. Deaton said that even moving the physical location of an office could increase efficiency by improving communication. The recently consolidated office of extension, now located on the MU campus, is an example, he said.

“What I’m waiting to see is how the efficiency comes about,” James said. “I don’t look at efficiency as saving money, I look at efficiency as making the best of the money we have.”

Deaton said that the moment efficiency is achieved, resources will become available. He said that this process might bring about some layoffs but that the annual staff turnover rate will take care of any reasonable reductions in numbers.

“I doubt we would be losing people to any significant degree at all,” Deaton said.

For example, a position may remain vacant after an employee decides to leave and his or her duties would be distributed to others. In these times of financial constraints, there is an automatic tendency not to fill a position, Deaton said.

Property lease

For the third straight year, MU will try to obtain legislative approval to lease 25 acres of land at College Avenue and Stadium Boulevard. MU wants to lease the property to a developer who will build a hotel and a convention center. The lease money would be used to start building a performing arts center. Hotel owners in Columbia have expressed their worries that the university will create unfair competition to their businesses.

Fund-raising campaign

With its four-year-long “For All We Call Mizzou” campaign, MU is trying to raise $600 million by the end of 2005. The campaign went public in September, and as of Dec. 31, it raised more than $354 million. The plans are to raise $443 million by the end of this fiscal year, said Mary Jo Banken, MU spokeswoman.

New buildings to open

The Virginia Avenue housing complex, the first one to be built on campus since 1965, will open in this fall, said Frankie Minor, MU director of residential life. The complex will have more than 700 beds and will be divided into four buildings called Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence. The complex will come with a dining hall called Plaza 900, Minor said.

The Life Sciences Center will also be completed in 2004 and so will the new basketball arena and a bridge over College Avenue. A good portion of the expanded MU Recreation Center will be completed by fall 2004.


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