MU departments near deadline to supply funds for $20 million shortfall

MU Budget Strains

MU division, department and college leaders are nearing the deadline to decide how they will contribute their share of funds to make up the university's $20 million shortfall for the current fiscal year. 

As ABC 17 News reported in January, Governor Eric Greitens withheld millions of dollars for higher education, including $20 million from the University of Missouri. 

Last month, MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley released a full breakdown of the withholdings for each college, school and division. The deadline to contribute those funds is April 28. 

Many departments, such as the College of Agriculture, are dipping into reserve funds to come up with their share of the money. 

"It's hard to really say what's the impact, but we know there will be an impact when those reserves are less than what they are today," Bill Wiebold, Division of Plants and Sciences professor told ABC 17 News. "We did get an email message from our dean and about $800,000 was going to be covered by the dean's office and the balance would be coming to our divisions." 

MU spokesperson Christian Basi told ABC 17 News that some departments and divisions chose not to fill open positions in order to save money. He said some capital projects have also been put on hold. In the Division of Operations, he said a significant amount of funds will come from things like parking maintenance. 

Meanwhile, university leaders are already making preparations for fiscal year 2018. UM System President Dr. Mun Choi has said he expects $57 million in cuts to permanent funding. He has said the cuts may require some programs to be eliminated. 

"It's difficult to tell a program that they may not be the top priority. That's hard. But if we don't have it [the conversation] then someone else is going to make those decisions," Wiebold said. 

While Wiebold admitted he's a little nervous about the future, he said these preparations are necessary in order to ensure the university's success. 

"What we're really trying to do is get prepared to hand this university off to the next generation...we have a responsibility to not only to them and taxpayers to do things in the most efficient, most appropriate way. It takes hard decisions, but we can do it," he said. 

Fiscal year 2018 begins July 1, 2017. 

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