Mizzou is considering whether to eliminate programs like classical studies, nuclear engineering, romance languages and personal finance planning. University of Missouri System President Mun Choi tells Missourinet a task force is recommending 33 program cuts.
“By having a large number of programs that are not very successful in meeting the level of excellence that we expect, would take away from those programs that do require the investment that can reach or maintain the level of excellence,” says Choi. “What are those programs we are going to focus on to continue to grow?”
A $40 million reduction in state aid for the current fiscal year and about $60 million in declining enrollment led the system to cut programs and jobs and increase tuition by the capped rate of 2.1% last year.
Republican Governor Eric Greitens’ fiscal year state budget that begins in July includes about $70 million in proposed cuts to higher education. Several members of the Missouri Legislature have been critical of the recommendation and hope the body will not go along with that part of the governor’s plan. We won’t know the end result until after Greitens takes action on the budget.
Choi describes the potential cuts as pruning the overall life of a plant – the life of Mizzou’s academic enterprise in this case – to ensure the strength of the plant. Most of the programs targeted, which have low enrollment, are masters and doctorate programs.
“As we evaluate some of these programs, we also have to evaluate the quality. Not just the numbers but the quality,” says Choi. “What are the graduates doing after they graduate? Are they trained sufficiently so that they can make an impact in their chosen career field?”
One continuing message Choi has expressed during these stages of pruning is the University of Missouri cannot be all things to all people. All four campuses are evaluating possible cost-cutting measures that include the closure or consolidation of programs. Distance learning and online classes are part of the discussions about consolidation and generating revenue.
“We want to explore ways that our four campuses can collaborate. So students at UMKC can take classes in nuclear engineering, which is not offered at UMKC, but can be taken as a distance learning from Mizzou or from S&T,” says Choi. “And vice versa, students can take classes at Mizzou from UMSL, which is nationally renowned for their work in criminal justice. These are ways that we can make more course offerings available to our students regardless of where their home campus is located.”
Choi emphasizes that the recommendations are in the early stages of a multi-stage process. He says a collaborative effort involving public input will occur before the fate of the programs are finalized.