COLUMBIA, Mo. - The University of Missouri will put together several roundtable groups to help administrators find ways to improve morale on campus.
Chancellor Alexander Cartwright discussed the plan at an open forum with MU staff on Tuesday afternoon. The forum focused on issues held by the some of the school's 6,000 full-time staff members. A campus climate survey showed that 52 percent of staff members considered leaving the school last year.
The three groups will work specifically on issues relating to staff, faculty and students and have one of the chancellor's cabinet members on board. Those groups will help administration come up with several short-term solutions the school can implement to improve morale on campus.
Staff members pressed administrators at the forum on issues such as pay, vacation time, hiring and parking. Pay was a leading factor in many staff members' desire to leave the school, according to the campus climate survey. Administrators said while pay raises remains a top priority, budget constraints stop them from offering a raise quickly.
One staff member pressed the panelists about how they would bring change, despite earlier promises to do so. Cartwright said that while he hasn't been at MU long, the chancellor's office would lead the way in improving morale.
"It leads from me," Cartwright said. "It leads from the chancellor. If the chancellor is committed to it, then the other people who are responsible for making those things occur will do it."
Some staff members told ABC 17 News that Cartwright's comments made them optimistic concerning the potential for change. Chrissy Kintner, head of the Staff Advisory Council, said they hoped to have their roundtable group selected by November, and have short-term solutions ready to submit by the end of the year.
Ronnie Moten, a chef with Campus Dining Services and member of the Staff Advisory Council, said Cartwright and UM System President Mun Choi have made themselves available in their short time in Missouri so far.
"They have their ear to the ground," Moten said. "They're listening to not just the staff, not just the faculty, they're listening to MU nation."