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Budget cuts: from 2008 to now

(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – UCM took a budget hit in 2008, but some faculty and staff members say it was easier to overcome compared to the budget blow that was experienced this year.

The university received approximately $59.6 million from the state in 2008 and $55.7 million for 2018. UCM received $5.36 million less in state appropriations this fiscal year, according to a Missouri Department of Higher Education financial summary. This marked a 9 percent year-to-year decrease in core funds for the university. A previous cut resulted in UCM receiving $4.1 million less in state funding.

Joyce Chang, child and family development professor, said the cuts are much more noticeable now than they were in 2008. The biggest struggle is the lack of graduate differential.

“For our college, we do not have any graduate differential, which is when the faculty teaches graduate courses separately because you need to be more invested in a graduate class,” Chang said. “In a graduate class of 12 students, it’s different than an undergraduate class of 12 students because of the intensity level.”

Chang said the university tightened its belt in 2008, but the recent round of cuts required UCM to punch several new holes in the belt.

“If my waist was a 38. Now it’s a 22,” she said.

Chang has moved around between different departments since she came to UCM in 1997, but she said the department she is in currently is really seeing the effects of the cuts.

“I understand that timing is rough. It’s getting hard especially because I feel like more and more has been getting put on faculty’s plates, but the support is getting less and less,” she said.

Chang said the uncertainty is high and people are suffering.

“Even in 2008, it wasn’t that tight. I feel a lot of uncertainty now,” Chang said. “I think students are suffering because we’re cutting printing and support for instruction.”

Ryan Peterson, an associate professor in the child and family development program, said he also feels the cuts more now than he did in 2008.

“Maybe I was just too new here, but I really didn’t feel it as much in 2008. I feel it particularly with the instruction. I feel it a lot harder, and I know students have to feel it as well,” Peterson said.

Peterson said people are frustrated because of the budget cuts.

“It feels more like a business rather than what higher-ed should be like, at least for me,” Peterson said.

Gregory Turner, communication disorders professor, said his department wasn’t hit too hard with budget cuts in 2008, but wages have remained stagnant.

“My department was not affected largely by the recession. I think the faculty has been influenced largely by the lack of increase in wages over time,” Turner said.

Turner said his department stayed afloat and was able to get by with the cuts that were made.

“As a program, we fared pretty well even though we had to make cuts,” Turner said. “We had some flexibility.”

Terry Butler, the director of the Missouri Safety Center, said his program took the biggest hit after the 2008 recession, so there wasn’t much to cut this time around.

“It was tough, it was a nail-biting time there for a little while,” Butler said.

Butler said the budget cuts his department experience in 2008 made the program learn how to adapt and strengthened it in a way.

“All of that that started in ‘08 sort of made us refocus what we did, and we’ve changed a lot in the last three or four years because of it,” Butler said.  “I don’t know if you could say it had a positive spin, but we are where we are because of it.”

Butler said the department had to learn how to survive on a limited budget while also planning out future growth.

“You choose to survive, or you don’t,” Butler said.

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