This is the first in a four-part series about how the university is dealing with decreasing amounts of money from the legislature. The university outlined a three-pronged plan: increased enrollment, increased tuition and deferral of building maintenance, plus faculty salaries are stagnating.
In a time when many sources of income are falling, the record rate of student enrollment is increasing tuition revenue.
Like many other public universities, the composition of MU's budget is changing. In the past, state appropriations usually outpace the revenue from tuition. Now at MU, state funding has decreased while tuition has become a more significant chunk of the budget.
"Because of state funding becoming smaller than it actually was seven or eight years ago, public universities are beginning to look more like private universities in that they are going to have to rely on something other than state funding," Budget Director Tim Rooney said.
Right now, money from the state and money from tuition and fees each make up about 20 percent of the MU budget. In 2000, state appropriations were 22.1 percent, while tuition and fees only accounted for 14.2 percent.
This, compounded with a decade of national economic troubles, has put MU in a difficult financial situation. The university has had to figure out how to continue campus growth while limiting spending and collecting money to place in its reserves.
The university's plan to maintain the current level of income includes increasing tuition, deferral of building maintenance and increasing enrollment, and faculty salary stagnation is also helping the university save costs.
Based on fall enrollment levels from 2002 to 2007, MU's total student population has increased by an average of 440.6 students annually. On the opening day of classes, 29,761 students were enrolled, an increase of 1,284 students from the same time last year.
Undergraduate Studies Vice Provost Jim Spain was one of many people who helped MU plan for its growth over the summer. He said the tuition brought from more incoming students will provide an important financial resource for MU to pay for things like construction and faculty costs.
"Certainly as we increase the number of students enrolled, that increases our tuition income," Spain said.
Spain said he believes the university's increase in size alone will attract positive publicity and possibly even lead to more interest from potential students.
"We had a significant vote of confidence, didn't we?" Spain said. "With the record enrollment we had a record number of students who said, 'Mizzou is my choice of university.'"
Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Ann Korschgen said the university is still figuring out a target enrollment number. However, she believes growth for next year will be determined by several factors, including the university's retention and graduation rates.
"We assume there will be a slight overall increase in enrollment, but it is still too early to make a definitive answer," Korschgen said.
The introduction of more students on campus called for a lot of planning during the summer. Besides determining where the new students would live, administrators also had to decide how to best educate more students without sacrificing the academic integrity of the school.
Ted Tarkow, associate dean of the College of Arts and Science, helped plan for this year's enrollment growth. He said to accommodate freshmen in core classes like English, math and science, the university had to re-examine how it was using its teachers.
Instead of hiring many new teachers and subsequently adding to the university's expenses, Tarkow said MU reorganized class placement and asked established professors and teaching assistants to teach more classes. Some faculty had even agreed to change the courses they were scheduled to teach.
"We added some classes," Tarkow said. "We were able to move some classes. We were able to put classes at times of the day that, as it turned out, there was some classroom vacancy. The result is that most students here at MU are here on a good start."
According to Illinois State University's Grapevine report, the state of Missouri ranks 47th in state tax appropriations for higher education per capita, and, as Rooney pointed out, the state almost provides MU with $50 million less than what it should for the university to keep up with inflation.
Nonetheless, Rooney said he understands the state's actions. He said there are many state agencies that are competing with higher education for limited state funds.
"The state is just like any other budget, they have lots of mouths to feed too, and they have to figure out who they are going to give the money to," Rooney said. "They have got to give it to corrections, K-12, Medicaid. We are just another mouth that is in line."