Officials at the University of Missouri’s flagship campus in Columbia have announced a plan to cut approximately 400 jobs and raise tuition in the face of a projected 7.4 percent plunge in student enrollment and a $14.7 million state budget cut.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 employees will simply lose their jobs at the taxpayer-funded school. The rest of the job cuts will come either because people are retiring or because the school won’t renew the contracts of non-tenured professors, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The 7.4 percent decrease in student enrollment will cause a $16.6 million drop in revenue. School officials are responding to the revenue reduction by raising tuition by 2.1 percent. The tuition increase will generate about $7 million.
Garnett Stokes, Mizzou’s latest interim chancellor, announced the staff cuts and the tuition increase on Monday at a forum on campus.
The University of Missouri’s campus in Columbia employs about 13,000 professors, administrators and other employees.
Mizzou officials blamed the enrollment decline — the second steep enrollment drop in two consecutive years — on ongoing “public perception concerns,” according to the Post-Dispatch.
The image problems stem from an eruption of Black Lives Matter protests rocked the Columbia, Mo. campus in November 2015.
The protests by a group calling itself Concerned Student 1950 group centered largely on Jonathan Butler, the son of a millionaire railroad executive. Butler went on a hunger strike and convinced 32 black Mizzou football players to boycott all team activities.
The protests featured lots of camping out on an occupied campus quad, which served as a hub for fomenting unrest.
A now-fired professor, Melissa Click, threatened a student cameraman with mob violence when he tried to cover the ongoing protests.
Emails from the University of Missouri’s computer network obtained by HeatStreet show that the activists who led the protests demanded generators and a fire pit to keep themselves warm and cozy as they camped out in tents on the campus quad during chilly November nights. School officials helpfully provided additional electricity.
Protesters accused President Timothy Wolfe of not doing enough to address racial tensions on campus. After the players announced their strike (which lasted all of one practice), Wolfe resigned and the school caved to a host of other protester demands.
Mizzou has been reeling financially — and losing students — since the protests.
Applications to Mizzou applications for this academic year were way, way down. The school lost a staggering 23 percent of its freshman class. To contain costs and to reflect its shrinking population, school officials shuttered several dormitories.
The taxpayer-funded school also announced it was facing the prospect of a gigantic $32 million budget shortfall.
Earlier this month, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) published its annual list of all member schools that are still accepting applications for first-year or transfer students for next fall.
Mizzou is on NACAC’s 2017 college openings list. The school is still accepting freshman and transfer students, the organization says.
At the Monday campus forum, Stokes, the interim chancellor, suggested the formation of a committee to find ways to revamp Mizzou’s image to become “more forward looking,” according to the Post-Dispatch.
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