Higher Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Higher Education

Michael Smith, an adjunct English professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis speaks at a small union rally on Thursday, March 23, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Some teachers at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who are trying to form a union sued the state’s university system Thursday, alleging that the rules the board of curators set forth for organizing are too restrictive.

They contend there are gender and minority wage gaps, and that the best way to close them is to unionize. The effort started last summer on the heels of successful union votes at other colleges in the region.

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

A long, slow decline in both state funding and enrollment has public colleges in Illinois cutting staff and increasing tuition. In the face of a financial shortfall, it would seem campuses would seek out every dollar available.

But Western Illinois University and Southern Illinois University are trying a different tactic. They’re eliminating higher out-of-state tuition rates so any undergrad from any state will pay what used to be the lower in-state tuition.

Incoming UM President Mun Choi speaks to a reception at UMSL Tuesday, 11-29-16
File | Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri System’s incentive program for its top executives is being terminated just a few days after a state audit found the program lacked transparency.

New UM System President Mun Choi acknowledged the current program’s lack of transparency was a part of his decision to end it, but he also said paying “the market rate” for administrators is key to the university’s overall success.

Harris-Stowe State University President Dwaun Warmack discussed his recent meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on St. Louis on the Air.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

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By now, you know the uproar over the photo: Kellyanne Conway with her feet on the Oval Office couch. While Conway has asserted she meant no disrespect, a huge amount of attention was diverted to that moment from what the actual event was about: A meeting of leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with President Donald Trump.

What were they meeting about and what did they discuss? Harris-Stowe State University President Dwaun Warmack knows intimately: he was in the room (and, indeed, in the now-infamous picture) to meet with President Trump. In fact, Warmack was in D.C. for a lot more: he met with legislators and Cabinet leaders in order to drum up support and money for financially struggling HBCUs.

Quadrangle at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
(Flickr Creative Commons User Adam Procter)

Updated at 6:10 p.m. with Greitens' statement — Missouri’s auditor criticized the University of Missouri System on Monday for giving excessive bonuses and other incentives to several current and former top administrators at a time when the system grapples with funding cuts and mulls raising tuition.

Trish | Flickr

Saint Louis University announced Friday it will cut 120 employees — or 4 percent of its workforce — because of a funding crisis.

University President Fred Pestello detailed the layoffs, which were expected for several weeks, in separate emails to staff and students.

Tayler Leverenz, 19, is from Illinois, but is taking advantage of the University of Missouri-St. Louis' offering of in-state tuition for Illinois residents.
Ryan Delaney / St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a tug-of-war happening across the Mississippi River for students in the St. Louis region, with some colleges erasing the borders of in-state tuition prices to help navigate tough financial times.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale was the vanguard in the area, offering Missouri students a reduced price in 2009, a move that’s resulted in 95 more students from west of the Mississippi in the last five years. And the University of Missouri-St. Louis, which for five years has offered in-state tuition for Metro East residents, is expanding that benefit to all Illinois residents.

But the big winners in all of this are the students, who now have more colleges to choose from and at more affordable prices.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

Increasingly, college life is less about walking across the quad or stopping at the dining hall before sitting in a big lecture hall, and more about flipping open a laptop at home.

Take Royal Witcher, a St. Louis native and Army veteran who lives in Belmont, Mississippi. He completed most of his bachelor’s degree through the University of Phoenix, a fully online institution, but often felt like just a number.

When it was time for his MBA, the 45-year-old did his research — lots of it — and decided on Maryville University, which has a campus in suburban St. Louis. But he didn’t return to Missouri, instead taking advantage of an online degree.

Mizzou's Columns
File Photo| Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens wants a former Mizzou football player and two others with ties to the state’s flagship university campus to help oversee the University of Missouri System.

The new curators-in-waiting are Darryl Chatman, Jeff Layman and Jamie Farmer. They all studied at the Columbia campus, and need to be confirmed by the state Senate.

Greitens announced the three appointments to the Board of Curators on Wednesday. The spots were open after he withdrew former Gov. Jay Nixon’s interim appointments.

Mizzou's Columns
File Photo| Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 11 with correction about how state universities can raise tuition -- The University of Missouri System is strongly considering tuition increases for its four campuses due to declining enrollment and declining state funding.

It’s still early in the budgeting process, but this week’s Board of Curators meeting was the first chance for the governing body to discuss Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposal for another large cut in state funding — 9 percent — in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
File: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is extending its in-state tuition rate further into Illinois, offering the cheaper price to all the state’s residents, not just those in the Metro East.

The University of Missouri curators approved the change Thursday as part of its quarterly meeting, held in Columbia at the system’s flagship campus.

Flickr | Shilad Sen

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is suing student loan company Sallie Mae and its spin-off Navient for consumer fraud, alleging the companies misled borrowers for profit.

Madigan's office began investigating after receiving numerous complaints.

Daniel Doerr, University of Missouri-St. Louis' assistant director for international studies, advises students about the impacts of President Donald Trump's travel ban at a forum Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated, Jan. 31 7:10 p.m. with advice from University of Missouri-St. Louis officials: 

Local colleges are advising all international students to avoid leaving the country amid President Donald Trump's executive order barring entry to travelers from seven countries.

Saint Louis University's newest version of the Billiken mascot, unveiled Wed., Jan. 25, 2017.
Saint Louis University

That old adage about not succeeding the first time and trying again certainly applies to Saint Louis University's mascot.

On Wednesday night, the university unveiled its new Billiken mascot, which is a re-do of a re-do.

The school first revamped its mythical symbol last September, but it was quickly met with disgust and jeers. 

Areli Muñoz Reyes, who is enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, attends St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For the past two years Missouri legislators in Jefferson City have sent a strong message to undocumented students in the region: you can go to college in Missouri, but we won’t make it easy.

That's what it looks like, at least, to Areli Muñoz Reyes a student  St. Louis Community College at Forest Park who started in the fall of 2015. Already worried about what will happen to undocumented students under the administration of Donald Trump, she’s also facing steep tuition rates without the state-funded scholarship she worked hard for.

As Eric Greitens is sworn in today as Missouri’s 56th governor, he’s pledging to support the state’s constitution and to serve the more than 6 million people living in the Show Me state.   

Shortly after Greitens was elected in November, his spokesman, Austin Chambers said,  “… the governor’s priorities for this first session are jobs, ethics reform, public safety and education reform."

St. Louis Public Radio recently asked listeners and readers to share their priorities  for the new governor. In addition to issues Greitens has already raised, some of his new constituents cite discounts and tax breaks for older homeowners.

A 2014 job fair hosted by the Urban League brought a big turnout to the St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley campus.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Over the next two years St. Louis Community College will be undertaking a number of steps to better support students from diverse backgrounds, from a review of faculty representation to accommodations for parents.

Among the new initiatives included in this iteration of the college’s diversity plan are efforts to bring students from different campuses together, and a push for faculty to address race, class, gender and other issues in its curriculum.

The University of Missouri System is beginning a nationwide search to name the next permanent Chancellor of the University of Missouri campus in Columbia.

Hank Foley has been serving in the role of Interim Chancellor since the resignation of former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin in November 2015. Foley issued this statement Monday, indicating he will apply to the position in an effort to drop the “interim” title:

Zora Mulligan, Missouri's Commissioner for Higher Education, has been in the position since August.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Zora Mulligan has been on the job as Missouri’s Commissioner of Higher Education for less than four months. But before she stepped into those shoes, she served as the University of Missouri System’s Chief of Staff during the 2015-2016 protests at Mizzou, which grasped the attention of the entire nation.

Did such exposure hurt the UM System as a whole?

kevindooley via Flickr

Public campuses and universities in Missouri, hampered by a legal limit on tuition increases and dwindling state support, are resorting to increasing fees to raise money, a state audit found.

The audit, released Tuesday, emphasized what the schools have been highlighting for some time: Students and their families are being forced to shoulder a greater share of the cost of higher education in Missouri.

The columns at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

The University of Missouri “violated fundamental principles of academic due process” and endangered academic freedom when it fired Mizzou Communications Professor Melissa Click following her actions during protests in Columbia last fall, a new report on the situation said.

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
File: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Tuition at the University of Missouri’s four campuses will remain flat this fall for in-state undergraduate students.

University of Missouri-Columbia

At a time when employees at two of its campuses face layoffs because of a financial crunch, curators of the University of Missouri spent $10,700 this week to meet at a Franklin County conference center rather than on university property.

The board held what it called a “development session” Wednesday at the Cedar Creek conference center in New Haven. No votes were taken at the meeting, whose agenda said it was held to discuss “board best practices.”

clio1789 | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1Wk4Nen

Every year, thousands of students graduate from colleges and universities in the St. Louis region. So why are so many looking to take their talent elsewhere?

Local firm Stakeholder Insights conducted a study in collaboration with the St. Louis Regional Chamber to answer this question. Lisa Richter, Managing Principal of Stakeholder Insights, said that the study showed the main concerns graduates had when deciding to stay in the area were availability of jobs in their field, career growth opportunities, wages and benefits, a result that is no surprise.

File photo

Updated 3:20 p.m. April 28 with implementation of plan: The University of Missouri-St. Louis said Thursday it was going ahead with a budget plan that would eliminate up to 85 positions on campus but minimize the effect on students.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

UPDATE: Washington U, adjuncts reach tentative agreement on four-year contract

Washington University adjunct faculty are warning of a walkout on Thursday in order to exert pressure on negotiations between their union and the school, which is refusing to move on the issue of a pay increase. Over 200 faculty and students alike have RSVP’d to the walk out Facebook event.

zhu |Flickr | http://bit.ly/21DUy2Q

A large body of study has amassed over the past 20 years looking critically at enrollment, retention and persistence rates of African-American men in higher education. The statistics are startling. Enrollment numbers are dwindling, with African-American male college enrollment around 34 percent, compared with 39 percent of African-American women.

Ari Cohn, a senior program officer with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The saga of Melissa Click is one so widely-known that it is sure to be recorded in the great books of higher ed lore. Click, in the fall of 2015, became famous for “calling for some muscle” to keep a reporter from entering a “media-free” zone on public property where Mizzou’s Concerned Student 1950 protesters were encamped. As a writer in The Atlantic pointed out, “If the case of Melissa Click were a law professor’s hypothetical, it’d be a great one.”

Washington University, Webster University, St. Charles Community College
St. Charles Community College, Flicker | Phil Roeder and Parick Giblin

Adjunct instructors at St. Charles Community College have joined the growing campus unionization movement.

By a vote of 108-61, the part-time instructors approved a proposal Thursday to join Service Employees International Union Local 1. The union also represents adjuncts at Washington University and St. Louis Community College.

Kameel Stanley / St. Louis Public Radio

Immigration advocates say some colleges and universities in Missouri are discriminating against undocumented students by charging them higher tuition. 

Students and organizers rallied Monday outside St. Louis Community College’s downtown office, demanding officials reverse course. 

 

Organizer David Nehrt-Flores, of Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates, said technically the schools don’t have to raise tuition, but are doing so because they are worried about state funding.

 

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