Falling enrollment, budget challenges cause faculty cuts at MU

Falling enrollment budget challenges cause faculty cuts at MU

COLUMBIA, Mo. - UPDATE, 10 p.m.: ABC 17 News spoke with Jim Spain, interim provost, about the decision to notify non-tenure track faculty that their contracts would not be renewed.

 "They're people," Spain said. "They've got families, they've got careers and this is certainly disruptive, and this is difficult for us."

Spain said the faculty members that received the notice could possibly be brought back when the school's budget becomes clear. MU will have a better sense of its enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year in May and the state budget will most likely be signed in June. Once both funding sources are clear, Spain said the school could offer those people a job, if still available.

Ben Trachtenberg, a law professor and member of the MU Faculty Council, said he felt bad for those that received the bad news.

"They are losing their jobs because of a budget crisis and not because of anything they did wrong," Trachtenberg said.

UM System leaders met with state legislators on Wednesday in Jefferson City for the four-campus system's showcase. Spain said the school continues to work on its relationship with lawmakers to convince them that public investment in higher education comes with a beneficial return.

"We're demonstrating to them that this investment that they make in higher education is really a positive investment in the state of Missouri," Spain said.


UPDATE 2:05 pm: Dean David Kurpius reacted to the cuts by writing a letter to the faculty and staff at The Journalism School.

Kurpius writes that the school was asked to prepare budget scenarios that included possible reductions. Kurprius said officials explored every option possible to minimize the impact of the budget cut. 

The letter states that there would be no staff layoffs to meet the directive. 

Kurpius ended the letter by saying, "This is not easy, and we have tried to make these cuts in a way that is respectful of all of our faculty and staff. Efforts are underway by the Provost Office and Budget Office to create bridge funding to reduce the impact."

ORIGINAL STORY: Falling enrollment at the University of Missouri is causing faculty cuts. 

In a letter written by Interim Provost Jim Spain, it says that a number of non-tenure track faculty received notices on Wednesday that their contracts would not be renewed for the 2018-19 academic year. 

Spain said the university continues to face significant budget challenges and officials are planning on a potential significant drop in state revenue. 

The incoming class for fall 2018 will be smaller than the number of graduates leaving in May, which means less tuition revenue, Spain said. 

ABC 17 previously reported that admission applications were up for every single UM system campus. According to the data, there were 15,060 applications for Mizzou in 2017 and 17,583 in 2018 showing a 16.8% increase. 

The letter goes on to say that University officials are continuing to advocate with legislators for the restoration of funding. 

Spain said that officials are remaining hopeful that the budget could change for the better and there could be potential renewals of NTT faculty in the spring. 

The faculty who did receive the 90-day notices will be getting transition assistance.  

Spain ended the letter by saying, "This is not an easy time, and these were not easy decisions to make. Thank you for all you do for Mizzou." 


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