Faculty Council explores new information on performance funding plans

Proposed program funding in Missouri would begin in the 2013 fiscal year.

Faculty Council received updates on performance funding initiatives that the state of Missouri is looking to implement in the coming years, it announced at its Thursday meeting.

The council also approved the academic calendar for the 2013-14 school year and saw a presentation from representatives from Mizzou Advantage.

Faculty Council Chairman Harry Tyrer presented information he received from Nikki Krawitz, UM System vice president for finance and administration. The state is looking to implement additional funding to public universities based on certain academic parameters starting in July 2012.

Tyrer said there will be four main areas by which institutions will be judged, with each university having a fifth parameter unique to that school.

The four areas the state is planning to evaluate are student success and progress, degree obtainment, quality of student learning and affordability. It has yet to be determined which specific statistics will be used to distribute funding.

Goals would be set based on past numbers from each campus.

“The system is meant to put the institution in competition with itself,” Tyrer said.

If the system is implemented, the UM System will submit one set of numbers, meaning that statistics from MU will be combined with those of the UM-Saint Louis, UM-Kansas City and Missouri University of Science and Technology campuses.

“We’re supposed to be competing with ourselves to show improvement, but we’re being lumped in with UMSL and the other UM schools,” council member Art Jago said.

Council members also raised concerns that the measures focused on undergraduate teaching and might force MU to de-emphasize its research efforts and graduate schools.

“It goes against what half of our mission is, which is research,” council member Vanya Krieckhaus said. “It seems to go against what a public research university should do.”

There were also concerns about grade inflation that might deplete the quality of education.

“The incentives are very perverse,” Krieckhaus said. “If we give out nothing but As and have low standards, we’ll get more money.”

Members also felt MU could be penalized because incoming students may be unprepared to do college-level work.

“It doesn’t take into account what students can do coming in,” council member Nicole Monnier said. “We won’t be able to do these things if K-12 doesn’t improve.”

The state is not seeking input from faculty members on the proposed changes, but the council resolved to revisit the issue if a decision is made.

“What is clear to us is that creating a subcommittee to look at appropriate metrics is not the way to go,” Tyrer said.

The council voted to add an addendum to the 2013-14 academic calendar that will automatically add class on the final Friday of the semester and move Reading Day to Saturday in the event that MU misses two days of school.

“We’re trying to supersede any need for Faculty Council to meet in the middle of a snowstorm,” Monnier said.

The council also saw a presentation from representatives of Mizzou Advantage, who gave updates on the progress of its five initiatives and informed council members about upcoming events for faculty.

Some faculty members questioned the cost-effectiveness of the programs, others pointed out that it lays out new opportunities for research.

“There’s been a home for traditional research, and I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon,” council member Candace Galen said. “Mizzou Advantage is a new way of looking at that, and it’s an interesting experiment.”

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