MU is not planning to eliminate or dramatically reduce graduate student assistantships next year, a university spokesperson said Wednesday.

“We’re absolutely continuing assistantships,” Liz McCune of the MU News Bureau said.

While colleges and departments evaluate their budgets and establish priorities each year, McCune said she doesn’t expect dramatic cuts to the number of assistantships offered across the university. More than 2,000 MU graduate students hold assistantships or fellowships, McCune said.

Rumors that MU is planning to cut assistantships “have been circulating,” Michael Vierling, co-chair of the Coalition of Graduate Workers, said in an email. Vierling said he asked Jeni Hart, dean of the graduate school, “if they contained any truth.”

“She said no, but it worries me that the rumors are persisting,” Vierling said. “If such a decision is made, we would of course fight it in all forms available.”

Vierling said he had no idea what the source of the rumors might be.

Education master’s degree candidate Colleen Spurlock, in a tweet posted Monday, implied that there would be no graduate assistantships next year.

As a master’s student studying educational leadership and policy analysis, Spurlock holds an assistantship with the MU Division of Student Affairs and is scheduled to graduate in May. After she posted the tweet, she said, MU reached out to reassure her.

“That’s fine, but you’re only addressing one student,” Spurlock told the Missourian. “I think there’s no consistent message being portrayed across the university.”

MU is switching to a new budget model next year, but McCune said the change won’t substantially alter the process of deciding how many assistantships to fund. The decisions are made at the college, school or unit level, and that will continue to be true, she said. However, she said, the university sets minimum stipend levels for graduate student assistants that are “quite competitive, compared with our peers.”

The current minimum for a doctoral student working half time is $18,026 a year, McCune said. For a master’s student, the figure is $16,389.

Spurlock said professors and administrators within the College of Education have told students that assistantships might not be available next year or that funding for tuition waivers is uncertain. This has left students “in the dark” and unsure of what to expect, Spurlock said.

Steven Adams, associate director of communications for the College of Education, referred all questions to the MU News Bureau.

Supervising editor is Tynan Stewart.

  • State government reporter, spring 2020 Studying investigative journalism Reach me at mariabenevento@mail.missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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