The economic crisis facing America is hitting home harder than ever.
UM system President Gary Forsee and MU Chancellor Brady Deaton sent e-mails containing information expressing the hardships the university might endure in 2010 in light of the nationwide recession.
Last week, Forsee was informed of the $340 million shortfall in Missouri's budget through June 2009. Forsee and Deaton were advised to prepare for the possibility of operating with 15 to 25 percent less state appropriations for fall of 2010.
Deaton acknowledged that the university has been in similar situations but never to this extent. In uncharted territories, Deaton encouraged students to think in innovative ways.
"I ask each of you to think in transformational ways about how we can stay true to our core mission and AAU quality but still work more efficiently and better use our resources to meet our needs, support our goals and fulfill our obligations as a state flagship and global university," Deaton said in the e-mail.
Forsee and Deaton challenged students to share any ideas they might have to help the university using what Forsee called an electronic "suggestion box."
Missouri Students Association President-elect Jordan Paul sees this challenge as a way to inspire those who feel incapable of helping.
"It helps psychologically because most people feel powerless," Paul said. "By giving people a venue to express their opinion, it makes them feel empowered to have their voice heard."
Paul said he believes the concept is beneficial, but it will not be on a large scale.
"It provides a very real way to trim some fat, but it's not going to be anything revolutionary," Paul said.
Forsee encouraged students to take an active role in reaching out to legislators to express the importance of the university to future prosperity.
Near the end of Forsee's address to students over e-mail he mentioned some potential changes that could occur when a decision is made late next week.
"You will likely see general references to programs and departments; overall work force of faculty, staff and administration; tuition and fees; enrollment; benefits; etc.," Forsee said.
The implications of these potential changes are immense, Paul said.
"Tuition and fees will increase and the obvious follow-up is increasingly burdensome for students here at the university who more than likely are making less money," Paul said.
There could also be an impact on the faculty, said Craig Stevenson, Associated Students of the University of Missouri board chairman.
"Probably the biggest repercussion would be a significant increase in tuition," Stevenson said. "We already have a lot of concern among the faculty and students about retaining quality professors as an issue because of our budget situation."
While Stevenson acknowledged that the situation does appear to be bleak, he said it's important to realize the potential for such a large decrease in state appropriations remains speculative.
"I think the e-mail shows it's a severe situation, but it's important to note that the General Assembly has made no budget decision or that there will for certain be a large cut at this point."
Stevenson said he believes the measures taken are in hopes of gaining favor before the General Assembly ultimately makes its decision of how severely to cut aid.
"I think if as an institution we can go the General Assembly and show how we are already cutting things and working toward helping with funding issues, it really does help our case," Stevenson said. "I think that's part of the hope, that the Gen. Assembly will see how we are all working to find a solution."