On July 1, every department at MU, except the scholarship and campus safety budgets, received 2 percent less in general operating funds, or money raised from tuition and state funding. These funds will be reallocated annually for the next four years to fund the MU Strategic Operating Plan, a program with several goals intending to "enhance (MU's) academic stature," such as hiring prestigious faculty and improving research resources.
On July 3, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin also announced that all of the departments on campus will need to give back additional funds to the MU central budget because $3.8 million in state funds are being withheld. These budget cuts are independent from the budget reallocations mentioned earlier.
First of all, we think that it’s great that MU wants to enhance its academic stature. Raising the bar for the students and for yourself is always a good choice, and we’re glad that you want this to happen. It benefits the school and the students alike. But is now really the time to be doing this?
The $3.8 million cut will take money from every department within the university. Nearly 25 percent of the cuts will come from the Division of Student Affairs, which oversees several key aspects of student life at MU, such as the departments of Residential Life and Student Life, Campus Dining Services and The Mizzou Store, just to name a few. The MU strategic operating plan cuts will take money from areas receiving general operating funds.
While the plan’s budget reallocations are a good idea, they are unnecessary at this point. With $3.8 million in budget cuts from the state, which cannot be helped by the university, it makes little to no sense to continue slashing the budgets. We think that this plan can be put on hold for a year or two in order to help the university deal with the upcoming budget cuts.
We realize that MU wants to enact this plan as quickly as possible in order to maintain our place in the Association of American Universities, a nonprofit association of the top 62 research universities in the U.S. and Canada. But at what cost?
By causing more unnecessary budget reallocations, the university is setting a rather unsettling standard. This series of budget reallocations in the face of a $3.8 million state funding cut says that MU cares more about preserving a reputation that the school maintains than the students who are enrolled there. These cuts affect students and faculty alike, and MU is set on continuing their plan.
What real consequence does being dropped from the AAU have? Is retaining one more bragging right really worth cutting funding from almost every department of the university? How does a university’s membership in the AAU benefit a student’s studies or experience at MU? The AAU didn’t even make an announcement when they ousted the University of Nebraska-Lincoln three years ago! It seems to us like losing our AAU membership has few practical repercussions, while these budget reallocations in order to maintain our membership status directly affect the students and faculty.
The university should realize that with the loss in state funding the university is facing, creating more cuts is wholly unnecessary. Wait until we’ve handled the state funding cuts, and then focus on the strategic operating plan reallocations. The university’s focus should be on helping students instead of preserving its prestige.
Besides, it can’t be that great if Kansas is in it.