As state lawmakers are trying to restore the $68 million in cuts to higher education proposed by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, university administrators are working on a reorganization plan.
President Chuck Ambrose said the state Legislature wants to put $38 million back into the core of appropriations for higher education. He said House Budget Committee Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick wants to put $30 million into Access Missouri, a need-based scholarship program, and will release it back to the university’s core if they hold tuition flat.
“The reality is, we don’t have the House and the Senate together as they pass a budget,” Ambrose said. “There is absolutely no telling what Gov. Greitens will do to us once that bill goes to his desk.”
Ambrose presented the options for organizing UCM’s four colleges into three to the Faculty Senate Wednesday afternoon. Ambrose said he and Interim Provost-Chief Learning Officer Mike Godard discussed negotiating with Fitzpatrick to allow tuition increases.
“We may have an opportunity to restore the $68 million, which is our highest priority,” Ambrose said. “We may have an opportunity to increase tuition one percent if we compromise with the House budget chair.”
He also said any resolution is likely to be painful.
“My other option in terms of directing the provost, would be to go to program review and elimination and most likely, because of just the dire straits of resources, that would probably require us to do some dramatic things like suspend funding promotion to offset the savings that we can’t provide by consolidating schools and colleges,” Ambrose said.
Scott Chenault, faculty senator of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies, asked Ambrose if he sees a pay cut in his own future.
“Our middle managers – deans and chairs – are going to be doing more work for the same amount of money,” Chenault said. “From a faculty perspective, your checks have an extra zero on them than ours do, and so that’s a spot (from where to cut) from our perspective. The morale is not great. Is there any discussion about pay cuts for upper administration?”
Ambrose said he believes the situation will even itself out.
“When all the decisions are made and the cuts are made, I believe you’ll see that it will be proportionate,” he said. “I appreciate you asking because this is my 20th year being the highest compensated individual at the place I work, which is never really a comfortable place to be.”
Ambrose said he knows the situation is difficult and he understands the frustration shown during the Faculty Senate meeting.
“I know change isn’t easy, and I know we’ve asserted a lot of change, and it’s perpetual,” he said.
Ambrose also said he’s optimistic for the plan the administration has crafted.
“We’re close to presenting perhaps the very best operating budget on operating integrity that we’ve done in a long time,” Ambrose said. “We will have what will be a good platform to work from, and to me, that’s optimism.”