A resolution has passed in the state Senate that would create a commission to review the University of Missouri. The proposal heads to the House. Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) says the commission would make recommendations, including on rules and regulations, administrative and campus structures and degree and diversity programs.
“The faculty should set academic standards. That’s their job, but the administration should be responsible for the maintenance, fiscal aspect and operations of the university. I think what they’ve gotten into over the years is this mish mash of who is responsible for what, really to the point where when we saw kind of the panic on campus as a result of student protests, it appeared nobody was in charge,” said Schaefer.
Proposed funding cuts to the university being considered are largely in response to recent turmoil on the Columbia campus, including last fall’s racial protests. Some state lawmakers believe that cutting funding for the university will send a clear message to MU administration that the Legislature will step in if they’re not happy with the way leadership is handling the university. Governor Jay Nixon has said that he’s not going to micromanage Mizzou and cutting funding will only hurt students and impact tuition rates.
Schaefer believes passage of the proposal will impact what happens to the University’s funding in the state budget.
“What’s reflected in the budget that the House passed is a frustration, which all of us I think have with management of the university,” said Schaefer. “I think by passing the resolution, we kind of have a mechanism to say if we really are going to make these types of cuts it would be good to have an objective, outside view of what really is going on and what could be done better before we simply just make those changes.”
The state Senate Budget Committee has proposed cutting $1-million from MU’s Administration. The House proposed a cut of $7.6-million. If the full Senate adopts the committee’s plan, the two chambers will have to find a compromise.
The panel discussed proposing that there be no cut to MU’s administration, but Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) wanted a cut of at least $1-million. He noted that was the amount MU would have lost if the football team didn’t play last fall, during its boycott that led to then-president Tim Wolfe’s resignation.
The committee’s proposal for state aid to MU will go as early as this week, with the rest of its proposed state spending plan, to the full Senate.