University of Missouri president: Layoffs a possibility as budget-cutting process begins | St. Louis Public Radio

University of Missouri president: Layoffs a possibility as budget-cutting process begins

Apr 3, 2017

Officials in University of Missouri System are considering layoffs as it makes adjustments in the face of a major loss in state funding and shrinking enrollment, system President Mun Choi said Monday.

In Choi’s open letter, which starts the process of making deep budget cuts to the state’s largest provider of higher education, he said the four campuses will need to trim 8 percent to 12 percent out of their budgets. The cuts will target specific programs and not be across-the-board, he said.

“It is important to emphasize that we cannot rely on reserve funds to solve structural problems created by permanent budget reductions,” Choi wrote. “As part of this process, we also will need to make new investments to grow the programs of excellence that are not sufficiently funded.”

Finding new ways generate revenue will be necessary, Choi added.

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens has withheld $37 million in funding for the UM System — and proposed an additional $57 million worth for the coming fiscal year, according to Choi’s letter — since taking office in January. That’s about a 9 percent cut from the previous fiscal year, according to the governor’s office.

Enrollment dropped almost 2 percent systemwide from fall 2015 to fall 2016, according to the state's higher education department.

The budget planning process will be completed in June, after receiving recommendations from each campus, Choi said.

The university system’s board of curators began preliminary conversations in February about the need to significantly raise tuition, which would require a waiver from the state’s higher education commissioner, or the legislature to change the state law blocking colleges and universities from raising tuition beyond the rate of inflation.

The cuts also come after last month’s state audit report, which detailed a large incentive program for top administrators that state Auditor Nicole Galloway said was possibly unconstitutional. Choi canceled that program days later, but said it would be replaced with a more transparent one in order to continue to attract top leadership.

The University of Missouri’s Board of Curators holds the license for St. Louis Public Radio.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney.