COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri's flagship campus will eliminate nearly 200 jobs as part of an effort to cut into a $49 million budget shortfall.
The job reductions are among several moves to balance the budget for the Columbia campus for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Details were announced in a news conference Wednesday but embargoed for release until Thursday.
University leaders cite two key factors: Stagnant state appropriations and a continuing battle to get enrollment back to where it was before racial protests in the fall of 2015.
Preliminary figures indicate freshman enrollment is expected to rise 14 percent this fall, compared to a year ago. But the expected 4,600-member freshman class still falls well short of the peak of 2015, when 6,200 students entered.
The drop-off followed a tumultuous period in the fall of 2015. Student protests over racial issues led to the resignations of a former system president and chancellor.
University spokeswoman Liz McCune said the university received $198.5 million in core appropriation funding last year, and expects $204.6 million for the coming fiscal year. That's still down significantly from the $220.5 million appropriation in fiscal year 2016.
It could have been worse, said Rhonda Gibler, vice chancellor for finance. University leaders were originally fearful the appropriation would be even lower and the deficit could reach as high as $70 million.
"I think the Legislature did a remarkable job this year for higher education considering the tough decisions they had to make," chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said.
The university is eliminating 185 jobs, mostly staff positions, not faculty. Thirty cuts will be through layoffs. The rest involve leaving open positions unfilled. The university said the job reductions will save $11 million.
The university also will drop some courses with low enrollment, reduce emphasis areas in some academic programs, reduce travel, and reduce or eliminate sponsorships of some campus and community events.
Last month, the university announced it would eliminate 12 graduate programs in part due to budget concerns. Seven of the 12 programs will merge with existing programs, one will include a broader curriculum and the remaining four will be completely closed.
Part of the budget gap is driven by an increase in costs, too. The university plans to spend an extra $6.2 million to award merit-based raises for faculty and staff, and increase scholarships and graduate student support funding by a combined $8 million.
New scholarships include the Missouri Land Grant Compact, which will cover tuition and fees for Pell-eligible Missouri residents.