UM System Board of Curators discusses tuition, housing at February meeting

New Hall was officially named in honor of African-American journalist Lucile Bluford.
Chancellor Alexander Cartwright gives a speech addressing his first 100 days as chancellor on Nov. 15, 2017. Cartwright spoke at the UM System Board of Curators meeting about increasing enrollment at MU.

The UM System Board of Curators met at the Reynolds Alumni Center on Thursday and Friday to discuss tuition and housing rate changes, student concerns and the dedication of an MU residence hall.

Chairman David Steelman called the Board of Curators meeting to order and introduced Courtney Lauer, student representative to the board.

Student representative report

Lauer has visited all four UM System campuses since her December student representative report and has spoken with students and faculty to gauge current projects’ progress.

For MU, Lauer spoke of the Missouri Students Association and its work to bring “coffee on the couch” events to campus. At these events, students meet and discuss issues such as mental health, career help and MU’s budget. Additionally, Lauer said MSA is working on a True Mizzou week and a staff appreciation week.

Lauer said Missouri University of Science and Technology students voiced concerns about the university raising supplemental student fees, which may be subject to another increase similar to the 67 percent increase that she said engineering students have seen. UM-St. Louis students mentioned construction and the safety of MetroLink stations located near campus as concerns.

After her student report, Lauer was asked about the climate of overall student satisfaction. Lauer said students report various problems, but that they are being addressed and discussed by students and faculty.

“I don’t think there’s an overall consensus that things are perfect by any means, but that there are different things that are happening where the board administrators are actually listening to students about concerns and moving towards the right path,” Lauer said.

Residence hall naming

The Board of Curators unanimously approved the official naming of MU’s newest residence hall to honor African-American journalist Lucile Bluford.

Bluford was denied admission to MU 11 times in the 1930s due to her race but was given an honorary doctorate from the Missouri School of Journalism in 1989, according to a UM System news release.

The atrium of the residence hall will honor Gus T. Ridgel, the first African American to earn a graduate degree from MU.

The recommendations came from Curator Darryl Chatman and Lauer, who had been leading a group in search of a hall name, according to the release.

“From this day forward, Lucile Bluford Residence Hall and the Gus T. Ridgel Atrium will stand as testaments to the spirit of justice and perseverance that animated both of these individuals,” Steelman said. “Lucile Bluford and Gus Ridgel exemplified the university’s values of Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence.”

Housing affordability

Ryan Rapp, UM System vice president for finance and chief financial officer, presented rates for housing in the 2018-19 school year, with a focus on “providing affordability.”

The board voted unanimously to pass the proposed rates, which will lower MU’s room and board costs by 3.5 percent for next year, increase Missouri S&T and UM-Kansas City’s rate by 2 percent and keep UMSL’s rate the same.

Tuition changes

The board also presented an expansion of lowered out-of-state costs for UMKC students to include the entire state of Kansas, as well as expanding the Heartland Rate, which provides 150 percent in-state tuition for students from certain states.

Beginning next year, students who are residents of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas or Wisconsin will be eligible.

These expansions mirror the UMSL program for students in Illinois counties near the St. Louis area. The new motion passed unanimously.

Increasing enrollment

The number of freshman and transfer student applications have increased across all four campuses, with the exception of transfer applications at UMSL, which decreased by 6.6 percent, according to a UM System news brief.

Freshman applications to attend MU in August 2018 are up from last year by about 17 percent, according to information presented Friday.

“These numbers demonstrate that Missourians and out-of-state students recognize that they can receive exceptional and affordable educations while becoming career-ready,” UM System President Mun Choi said in a news release.

The UM System campuses have achieved mostly high rankings in regard to black and Hispanic undergraduate enrollment and faculty employment, but Choi reiterated many times that “there is still work to be done.”

MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright focused on the development and success that MU has had over the past few years and talked about his plans to take MU to new heights of accomplishment. He said the way to make a great institution exceptional is to know what one’s resources are and how to invest in them.

“I am a big believer that you can’t get to where you wanna be if you don’t know where you are,” Cartwright said. “You have to create a culture of innovation and you have to create a culture of excellence.”

He said this innovation lies in teaching, research and creative activities, engagement and economic development. Cartwright said teaching classes “from a distance” could become a possible solution to the cuts being made.

Steve Graham, UM System senior associate vice president for academic affairs, spoke about online and hybrid classes. Graham said the number of credit hours taken online has more than doubled at MU and Choi said he wants the university to further expand its online class offerings.

MU finances

The Finance Committee presented plans to create a newly designed operational model next quarter that more efficiently utilizes resources and administration, as well as promotes academic excellence to increase the financial sustainability of all four campuses.

Cartwright gave a presentation about the current state of MU’s finances. He emphasized a 33 percent increase in funds raised since last year and that the MU endowment has surpassed $1 billion.

The discussion then turned toward fundraising techniques.

“It’s important that I carve out the time to be thinking about where the institution’s going,” Cartwright said.

He said he plans to simplify the donation process for donors by creating one-page sheets describing the goals of various departments of the university.

The Audit Committee presented its findings from the five internal audits and risk assessment done since its September 2017 report, stating that MU Health Care was a at a high risk of negatively costing the system. Vice chair John R. Phillips commented that MU Health Care “sticks out like a sore thumb” in human resources complaints.

Director of Government Relations Dustin Schnieders worked in Missouri state government for several years prior to working for the UM System and used his experience to talk about the current attitudes of legislatures toward the system.

“[The attitude is] very positive,” Schneiders said. “We’re starting to really connect with [the legislature] again, and President Choi and the chancellors have done a great job making themselves available [in Jefferson City].”

The next board meeting is scheduled for April 12-13 and will be held at the Rolla campus.

Edited by Stephi Smith |

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