Upcoming fiscal year to handle $49 million gap in budget

In an attempt to increase enrollment, MU’s administrative team focused on direct impact on students when deciding which programs to cut and which to invest in.

Chancellor Alexander Cartwright, Vice Chancellor for Finance Rhonda Gibler and Interim Provost Jim Spain presented MU’s 2018-19 fiscal year budget, which has a gap of $49 million, on Wednesday.

To accommodate the decrease in funds, the university is eliminating 185 positions, 30 of which are considered layoffs. The other 155 only affect staff members, who serve a broad range of duties throughout the university, as opposed to faculty members, who are under tenure and typically have advanced degrees in their field. These positions consist mostly of positions that had people leave or retire. The university will simply not hire replacements in the next fiscal year, Liz McCune with the MU News Bureau said.

Gibler said that any person being laid off was assisted in the transition and given enough notice and time to make adjustments.

The elimination will result in total savings of approximately $11 million, according to a press release from the news bureau.

Cartwright said that while freshman enrollment is up from last year, 14 percent as of June, the university is still in a downward tick in enrollment. He said that there’s a significant difference in the number of students graduating than the ones coming in. With that, MU is acquiring less money from tuition and other revenue sources.

“When you talk about our general operations budget, that’s largely tuition...the two big dynamics are what happens with our state appropriations and what happens with our enrollment and our tuition rate,” Gibler said. “The biggest adjustment in this from a revenue perspective is that we expect the total enrollment at Mizzou to be less than the current year.”

The university also eliminated courses with low enrollment and reduced emphasis areas for academic programs to make up for this loss.

The $49 million budget gap requires other reductions of up to 12 percent in some units. The administration reviewed budget scenarios put forth earlier this year and then, with that information, decided on where to cut funds.

As for how they decided on which ones, Cartwright said the administrative team focused on areas of the university that they believed wouldn’t have a direct impact on students.

“We chose what we had to to protect [the university’s] core,” Cartwright said. “How do we provide the services that is needed for our students? The libraries aren’t cut because they’re critical. We made decisions like those. We have services that students need first and foremost. Those are where our priorities are.”

In addition, MU is making some investments across the university to hopefully garner higher enrollment.

For example, the university will be providing “merit-based” raises to staff and faculty as an investment. Because these raises are given on merit, the administration believes it will help foster an environment of better work.

Gibler said the university was adding about $6.2 million toward these raises.

The university has also placed more than $100 million toward scholarships and graduate student support. This is an increase of more than $8 million from last year’s fiscal budget.

MU recently introduced the Missouri Land Grant Compact, which will cover tuition and fees for Pell-eligible Missouri residents.

Cartwright said getting enrollment numbers back has no one simple fix and it can take up to three years of continuous work before there is any major difference. He also said scholarships like the Missouri Land Grant Compact have impacted some people’s choice in MU and the university seeing higher overall enrollment.

“I can say, anecdotally, that there has been a lot of interest in the Land Grant,” he said. “That I can confirm.”

Edited by Caitlyn Rosen | crosen@themaneater.com

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