Mizzou short on cash and desperate for students after semester of protests
A semester of negative media attention and student protests is expected to lead to a $32 million budget shortfall and a drop of 1,500 in student enrollment for the University of Missouri (Mizzou).
“I am writing to you today to confirm that we project a very significant budget shortfall due to an unexpected sharp decline in first-year enrollments and student retention this coming fall. I wish I had better news,” interim Mizzou chancellor Hank Foley said in a campus-wide email.
To help mend the financial wound, Mizzou administrators agreed to a 5 percent budget cut, which will make up for an estimated $20 million, still leaving the university at a loss of $12 million. The expected revenue drop, however, was calculated independently from threatened legislative cuts to state funding.
“I must also point out that this shortfall does not take into account any additional budget losses that might come from a decline in the state appropriation for next year,” Foley wrote in his email.
On Tuesday, the Missouri House proposed a $1 million cut to Mizzou’s allocation of state funds and $7.6 million to the system’s administrative funds. The proposal has yet to pass a final vote in the House and is still pending consideration in the Senate.
Mizzou’s tense relationship with the state legislature was intensified after former journalism professor Melissa Click was caught on video harassing students and swearing at police officers during on-campus protests in the fall. Click, who was suspended and eventually fired for her controversial involvement in the student protests, claims she was terminated to appease a conservative legislature.
Although more than 100 Missouri lawmakers pressured administration to terminate Click, the Board of Curators insists she was fired for assuming she was “entitled to interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement [and] to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student.”
Click’s controversial spot in the national media, as well as ongoing campus protests, has resulted in a significant drop in student enrollment. In an effort to mitigate the loss, Mizzou is launching an aggressive recruitment program to reach students who have not yet decided on a university. As part of the new recruitment program, Foley said that the university will hire “more out-of-state recruiters” despite the hiring freeze.
“We are reaching out to admitted students who have not yet enrolled and to their parents with phone calls, Skype calls, videos and a text campaign – all of which involve current students, faculty and administrators throughout the university,” Foley said. “We also are in the process of adding more out-of-state recruiters and we are redesigning all our Admissions materials to ensure they meet the expectations and needs of prospective students.”
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