After record enrollments several times in the last decade, the University of Missouri is projecting a 2,600 drop in enrollment this fall. Interim chancellor Hank Foley says the decline has given administrators a chance to reflect.

Interim chancellor Hank Foley

Interim chancellor Hank Foley

“For about 10 or 15 years, we’ve had nothing but year over year growth, to the point where we’ve stretched everything to the limit. We’ve got lots of people who are teaching classes, students taking them out of sequence and that sort of thing. So, in a sense, although we wouldn’t want it to happen this way, it’s good to have a break,” says Foley. “It’s good to have a chance to really look back at what we’ve done, take a break and think about what does it mean to have grown by than 50% in less than ten years. Are we really still as student-centric as we were?”

Administrators have responded to the enrollment drop by cutting staff and spending and applying a hiring freeze. Mizzou officials think racial protests on campus last fall are partly to blame for the enrollment drop and the revenue loss.

Foley credits state lawmakers for giving the school more funding than it received the previous year.

“Wherever I go, I really explain to people how incredibly happy I am with the leadership in the state house and how incredibly smart those guys are,” says Foley.

Some lawmakers wanted to make significant budget cuts to the University system in response to its handling of those protests.

Brad Tregnago of KSSZ contributed to this story.