MU Administrators haven’t reviewed graduate satisfaction data in 12 years

“Personally, I’m sorry for what happened, I really am,” Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said.

Faculty Council met Thursday to discuss issues surrounding graduate student health insurance. Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, Vice Provost Garnett Stokes and Leona Rubin, Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies, were all in attendance to answer faculty member questions.

There was discussion about ways the university responds, or fails to respond, to the needs of graduate students.

“When graduate students graduate, they take a survey about the positives and negatives of their experience,” Rubin said. “For 12 years we haven’t looked at and analyzed that data, so our task force that we recently organized has started to look at those survey results.”

When asked by a faculty member why nobody in the administration has looked at the graduate student survey results for the past 12 years, Rubin responded, “I don’t know,”

Chancellor Loftin apologized for how he handled the graduate health care situation.

“Our grad students are an instrumental part in our commitment to being a tier one institution of higher education,” Loftin said. “Personally, I’m sorry for what happened, I really am.”

Loftin’s comment was in response to the graduate students’ recent walkout regarding their health care being taken away by the university.

Stokes admitted that the university has to do a better job of using data it compiles from students.

“We are discovering that as an institution we gather a lot of info and and we are not using that info to better the institution,” she said. “We have not been doing a great job about actually utilizing the info that is gathered to better the university.”

One faculty member asked Loftin if administration would consider increasing stipends for graduate students. Loftin said that that process will begin later this year.

“There is only so much new money coming in every year and we all know there are always more needs than money available to meet those needs,” Loftin said. “I have been doing this for a long time and I have found that process is king. We have to take some time to work through this.”

Loftin also added that the budget needs to be complete for the upcoming year by March 2016.

Faculty also questioned administrators about the lack of communication between concerned parties during the early stages of the graduate student health care crisis.

These questions came in the wake of reports from the Columbia Missourian that Loftin learned that graduate students lost their healthcare subsidy over social media.

Stokes conceded that she didn’t do a good job of fostering adequate communication between administrators.

“I made mistakes in terms of my understanding of who knew what,” she said. “We didn’t tell the people we needed to tell because I wrongly made assumptions about who was getting what info.”

The next Faculty Council meeting will be held on Sept. 11.

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