Nine takeaways from the first Board of Curators meeting
The board discussed recent budget cuts, funding, building projects, tuition and more.
Feb. 10, 2017
The UM System Board of Curators held its first meeting of 2017 on Thursday and Friday in Columbia. Here are the major takeaways from the meetings:
Five vacant seats, no student representative
There was no student representative at the meeting because Gov. Eric Greitens withdrew MU senior Patrick Graham, an unconfirmed appointee of former Gov. Jay Nixon, from the board last week.
Six curators were present, but only four seats are currently filled of the nine-member board. Two curators, whose terms recently expired, still attended the meeting in order for the board to hold quorum.
Room and board costs will increase for students across the UM System
The board approved increases to room and board rates at all four universities in the UM System. The “predominant plan” for MU housing and dining will total $10,070 in fiscal year 2018, a 3.3 percent increase from fiscal year 2017. The lowest rate increase is 1.1 percent at University of Missouri-St. Louis, and the largest is 4.6 percent at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla.
Despite room and board rate increases, the board approved the elimination of out-of-state tuition for Illinois undergraduate students at UMSL.
New building for State Historical Society and expansion to MU teaching hospital
Plans for a new Center for Missouri Studies building, which would house a gallery and administrative offices for the State Historical Society of Missouri, were also introduced. The society’s current location in the basement of Ellis Library, where it has been since the library’s opening in 1905, can only show less than 1 percent of what the society holds, according to previous Maneater reporting. The new location will be across from Peace Park and Lee Hills Hall.
A project design for an MU Teaching Hospital West Wing expansion and renovation was also introduced.
After lunch, the board discussed a proposed south end zone facility to be constructed at Memorial Stadium. The board approved the architecture firm Populous to design the $96.7 million project by a 5-1 vote.
Benefits for the millennial generation, financial assistance
Jill Pollock, interim vice president for human resources and chair of MU’s Total Rewards Advisory Committee, spoke about benefits and retirement.
Pollock also talked about how volunteer finance students from the Office for Financial Success are helping individuals with their financial needs. Their help has been “enormously popular,” Pollock said, noting there is currently a waiting list for their assistance. She stressed the importance of financial education when talking about benefits and retirement.
Diversity, equity and inclusion amendments
Title IX program consultant Emily Love talked about the proposed amendments to Combined Rules and Regulations from the system-wide diversity audit in April 2016. The changes included updating policy for consistency and clarity, expanding definitions of consent and incapacitation, expanding the role of the adviser and the inclusion of faculty members in hearing processes. The implementation of a system-wide preferred name policy for students and statements about nondiscrimination were also mentioned. These policy changes aim to protect students from issues of sexual harassment and discrimination, while also providing options for students in times of need.
Love also presented an annual report on the MU’s Ethics and Compliance Hotline, which allows for students, faculty and staff to report transgressions anonymously. In 2016, there were 123 calls to the hotline, 112 initial reports and 11 information referrals. Allegations of discrimination and of inappropriate behavior each accounted for 17 of the initial reports.
The efforts that have resulted from this audit were highly praised by curators and interim UM System President Mike Middleton; however, there was recognition that diversity and equity issues are not resolved.
“This team has done a remarkable job,” Middleton said at the meeting. “We may see some policy direction in the very near future and that may well prompt the modification in the way we are doing things. I would urge you to be ready to see this same process be utilized again in a year or two as we try to maintain our compliance with the law and protect our students, faculty and staff from [these issues].”
In a unanimous vote, curators motioned to adopt the changes proposed to the Combined Rules and Regulations regarding diversity, equity and inclusion.
Institute for Korean Studies grand opening
One of the first of its kind in the nation, the MU Institute for Korean Studies hosted its grand opening Thursday. During a recess from its meeting, the board attended the opening, where IKS co-director Sheena Chestnut Greitens and her husband, Gov. Eric Greitens, were in attendance.
Report from the chancellor
Interim Chancellor Hank Foley updated the board on the recently completed renovations to Lafferre Hall, MU’s partnership with the Stamps Scholars Program, a revamp of the MU website and the renewal of the MU research reactor’s operating license.
Foley emphasized the need for encouraging “high-impact research” and recognized that it would be a challenge to gain the capital needed for that goal.
“We need about $400 million, is my estimate, in new facilities,” Foley said. “$400 million on a 30-year loan means we need to generate between $17 million and $20 million a year to carry a loan of that size.”
Budget issues and discussion of solutions
Ryan Rapp, chief financial officer and interim vice president for finance, attributed budgetary constraints to an imbalance of recent budget cuts with enrollment growth and the perception of public higher education as a private good instead of a public good.
The board of Curators then discussed options for addressing financial difficulties and recognized the challenge of budgeting when they rely on funds from the state and economic conditions out of their control.
Proposed solutions included increasing tuition, philanthropy, relying on industry partners and increasing incentives for employees and departments to decrease costs.
Future of the board
The next planned Board of Curators meeting is scheduled for April 27-28 at Missouri S&T. To reach quorum, the board needs at least five members in attendance. Currently, there are only four members. Gov. Greitens has yet to nominate or appoint individuals to the five open seats, in addition to the vacant student representative position.
Kyle LaHucik, Libby Stanford, Clare Roth, Zia Kelly, Jackson Kinkead and Olivia Garrett contributed to this report.
Edited by Madi McVan | firstname.lastname@example.org