Curators approve 2017 budget and discuss the presidential search during its June meeting

There will be a $2 million payroll cut to compensate for a decrease in funds.

During their annual budget meeting June 16–17, the UM System Board of Curators discussed the budget, the system presidential search and diversity and inclusion. Interim President Mike Middleton also presented a State of the University report, and UM System Chief Diversity Officer and interim Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Kevin McDonald presented a report on his upcoming plans to make the UM System more diverse and inclusive.

Due to the recent appointment of three new curators and a student representative, this was the first board meeting of 2016 with a complete board in attendance.


The board unanimously approved the fiscal year 2017 budget, which factors in a $3.8 million decrease in funding from the Missouri legislature.

To compensate for the reduction in state funding, Vice President for Finance Brian Burnett said that there will be freezes for some open positions and no merit raises across the UM System. He also said that there will be a $2 million recurring and $1 million one-time payroll cut. Part of the cuts include the offices of the president, human resources and general counsel.

Burnett said that his office is estimating a $34 million drop in tuition and fees across the UM System. Total revenue for fiscal year 2017 will be about $3.1 billion, which is similar to last year’s revenue.

Tuition and fees make up 50 percent of the operations fund budget, Burnett said, while state appropriations make up 37 percent. Burnett said that Missouri is currently ranked 43rd nationally in higher education funding, and as a result, tuition is a large source of funding for the UM System.

The UM System has received a 4 percent increase in performance-based funding, totaling $17.9 million; 90 percent of it will be given proportionally to campuses and 10 percent, or $1.7 million, will be used for “strategic diversity initiatives.”

The board also voted to approve campus improvements appropriations requests, which include funds for the reconstruction of Waters Hall. Burnett said that $555 million of campus improvements projects are currently underway, including renovating Lafferre Hall and building new residence halls and a new softball stadium.

Burnett said that because of lower enrollment at MU, Laws and Lathrop residence halls, which are scheduled to be knocked down, might not be rebuilt as soon as originally planned.

“It might be put on hold because they don’t need to replace those beds at this time,” Burnett said.

Presidential Search Update

Search firm Isaacson, Miller partner John Isaacson told the search committee during the first day of the board’s meeting that so far, more people than expected have shown interest in becoming a candidate for UM System president. Isaacson said this was a “pleasant surprise.”

Interim Vice President for Human Resources Kelley Stuck presented the committee with information about the approach that will be used to evaluate candidates. The approach is a five-step process that involves evaluating and interviewing candidates, evaluating finalists, assessing the finalists and completing a reference process.

The rubric used to evaluate candidates during interviews will be based on the qualifications statement approved in April. Interviews with candidates will last up to 90 minutes. Following interviews, the search committee will debrief and discuss their opinions of the candidates.

Currently, Isaacson, Miller and the committee are exploring nominees before narrowing down the field. According to the current timeline, the new president is expected to be selected by November, but the process could last longer depending on the candidates interviewed.

State of the University address

Middleton delivered the State of the University address and praised those who “have worked tirelessly to rebuild trust and confidence in our university.”

Middleton called students and faculty the “heart and soul of the university,” and also thanked the four chancellors for their work.

“As we have stated again and again, the University of Missouri is much, much more than the events that have occurred last fall,” Middleton said. “As a university family, we have much to be proud of, and so much to celebrate.”

Middleton said that those in the university community have worked hard for the past few months to move forward. He said that the university saw the “efforts come to fruition” with a 4 percent performance-based increase from the state legislature. Middleton said the increase in funding is “quite an accomplishment” considering the threats to take away millions in funding earlier in the year.

"The state of the university is strong and getting stronger," Middleton said. “We must be the university that we all imagine.”

Board Chair’s report

In lieu of Chairwoman Pam Henrickson speaking during the board chair’s report, Kevin McDonald spoke about building inclusion within the UM System.

McDonald said he sees diversity both as things seen and unseen.

“I define diversity by the various mix and combinations of human differences,” McDonald said.

He said his job is to develop a roadmap for diversity and inclusion that connects to organizational function. Three weeks into his job as chief diversity officer, McDonald said that his office has already begun to set the framework for future changes.

The four parts to this framework — access and success, campus climate and intergroup relations, education and scholarship, institutional infrastructure — will be put into place as the results from the diversity audit are announced later in the year. McDonald said that after reviewing the results of the audit, the recommendations from the audit can be plugged into the framework to create concrete change.

“Gone are the times attempting to just appeal to the hearts and minds,” McDonald said.

Student representative Patrick Graham asked McDonald what can be done once faculty are hired to retain and support them. McDonald said that it will be important to make sure faculty feel valued.

McDonald said that his office will build upon work already being done.

“The great thing is that there’s already great work taking place on our campuses,” he said.

The next Board of Curators meeting will be July 22 in Kansas City where the board will meet to vote on approving the fiscal year 2018 state appropriations request.

Edited by George Roberson |

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