As the close of semester approaches, I wanted to reach out to our campus community. First, it is an honor to serve as your interim chancellor. In my time at Mizzou I have come to love this hardworking, resilient and tenacious community of gifted scholars, students, researchers, educators, administrators, clinicians, staff and supporters. It is a pleasure to lead such a dedicated group.
As your interim chancellor, I will work in partnership with you and President Mun Choi as we prepare the campus for a new chancellor. Since I started as provost in spring 2015, I’ve had the honor of hiring a dozen new campus leaders, including six new deans. Several positions on the chancellor’s staff have been filled as well. These new leaders are committed to working together with their longstanding MU colleagues to break down barriers and move MU forward. As we begin Mizzou’s next chapter, this team of senior leaders and I are committed to upholding shared governance and transparency.
To that end, I want to give you an update on the budget. The latest state funding and enrollment projections are necessitating significant changes to our FY18 budget. Because of this, the general revenue allocation to each school, college and division will decrease by 12 percent. I have asked our leaders to adjust their budgets based on the guiding principles provided by President Choi and each unit’s strategic priorities. To allow units to invest in initiatives deemed critical to their future, it has been requested that leaders vary reduction in allocations across programs and departments within their areas. In addition, I have given unit leaders authority to use one-time funds to bridge any costs that cannot be reduced immediately or until new funding sources are developed that can offset recurring costs. As the campus works through long-term planning, there is an expectation that specific investments in our highest priorities will allow for very intentional support of the aspects of the campus that are most crucial to the long-term mission.
Twelve percent is a substantial reduction that will unquestionably impact our workforce, facilities and the breadth of services we provide. Good people and good programs will be affected. In addition to personnel downsizing, some examples of other budget reduction proposals include eliminating the Environmental Health and Safety Department building from the MU Education and General-use facilities portfolio and relocating EHS to the General Services Building; relocating the Truman School of Public Affairs to fall under the administration of the College of Arts and Science; and sharing common services across units. These are not easy decisions to make. Our collective final budget plans are due to the president May 19.
Before they are turned in, the Mizzou senior leadership teams invite you to participate in a series of forums, where you can engage in a dialogue – online or in person – about budget priorities, ask questions and give your input. These forums are scheduled for 2-4 p.m. Monday, May 15 and 9:30-11:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 16 in Stotler Lounge and will be live streamed with the option to submit questions remotely. Or, if you are unable to attend and want to provide feedback, feel free to use this budget questions form. Throughout this process, it will be important to recognize the balance between transparency and respecting personnel who might be affected. Therefore, final budget details cannot be shared with all members of the university community until after June 1.
Although our circumstances are not what we would wish, we have an opportunity in front of us: to reimagine Mizzou. Over the next 12 to 18 months, we will engage in a top to bottom review of all programs, centers, processes, policies, organizational and departmental structures, and funding models. In the next few weeks, we will be working with campus leaders at every level and will be in touch with details about the framework we will follow together to move forward. I hope everyone will participate. I am ready for change, and I believe you are too. It will require each of us to be educated on the issues and be willing to put the university’s interests above our own. I recognize this is a lot to ask, but I hope you will rise to the challenge with me.
Finally, I want to call your attention to some progress we’ve made and some priorities to which we are committed. Four new committees are being formed that will address our resource allocation model, capital financing, strategic enrollment management and statewide engagement plans. We remain dedicated to fulfilling our promise to increase graduate student stipends and to hire faculty that increase the diversity of campus. And of course, we will maintain the quality of education for which we are renowned.
In closing, I am looking forward to reimagining Mizzou with you. We will continue and build upon our missions promoting learning, discovery, engagement, service and economic development as we serve the state of Missouri and educate our future leaders. Together, we are capable of exceptional results.
Garnett S. Stokes
Interim Chancellor and Provost