[00:00:02] Good morning. Thank you for joining us. I’m Todd McCubbin, the Executive Director of the Mizzou Alumni Association. I’ll be serving as the host of today’s event. And will also serve as a panelist and answer questions as needed. I’d like to thank our panelists and many others who acted so quickly to put this event together for our community, our alumni and our friends. A few quick notes before we get started on how today’s town hall will work. Many of you have already submitted questions for our panelists. And we’ll be taking additional questions and a live format. To submit your questions, please visit chancellor.missouri.edu and see the link to submit questions under virtual town halls. Again, that’s chancellor.missouri.edu and look for virtual town halls. I will read those questions and ask one of our panelists to provide an answer. After the town halls, we will provide…we’ll follow up on information, too. We’ll follow up your questions, the ones we couldn’t answer at a later date. We’ll also be recording this event and we’ll place it online for viewing later. Now, before we start, we’ll cede the floor to President and Interim Chancellor Mun Choi to say a few words.
[00:01:26] Todd, thank you. And welcome to all of you. I hope that you are in good health. As many of you, we’ve all faced this shock to the system. But what is sustained me going forward is the incredible work, incredible work of our community. And everyone’s stepped up, whether it’s our professors quickly pivoting to deliver all courses online, to our staff members who are taking such good care of students and the campus, our doctors and nurses who are treating critically ill patients without regard to their own health. And our alums are providing directed support to Mizzou and to their communities like never before. And our lawmakers, our governor’s office, as well as legislators, are working overtime to bring stimulus funding to our state. Through all of this, you have shown the strength and character embodied in our universities, so thank you. Many of you are also concerned about the future of the university. We do have a challenging road ahead, but we will carry on. But to do so, we need to develop an aggressive plan to contain the situation, not only to keep our community safe, but also protect the university and the mission of the university. And we’ve already taken some major steps to reduce the financial impact. For example, we have a hiring freeze. There are severe restrictions on purchases and there will be no raises this year. And administrators have already volunteered for a 10 percent salary cut. And I appreciate the contribution from so many within the university to address the financial situations that we face. Now during the next few months, we will be making many more difficult decisions together. I do understand and appreciate your concerns about the future and the uncertainty during this period. But throughout this process, I can promise you that we will be direct, transparent, accountable and lead by example. Despite the challenges ahead I know that I can count on all of you to guide and support us. So thank you. And together we will sustain and grow this university to achieve excellence in student success, research, engagement and inclusion. Thank you for joining us today. And I look forward to your input. Let me now turn it over to our provost, Dr. Ramchand.
[00:04:21] Thank you, President and Chancellor Choi. Thanks to every one of you who has chosen to share your time with us this morning. Last night, a friend and colleague emailed me a quote that I’d like to share with you. This was in 1892 right after the fire that brought down academic hall. And the court is by GF Rothwell, who was president of the then Board of Curators. And he said this of Mizzou’s famous columns that you see today. And I quote, “Let these columns stand. Let them stand a thousand years. Crown them with an arch, memorial to the men who in their magnificent presence learned what life and duty are and how to lift the one and do the other.” Unquote. Life and duty. And if I think back on the last couple of months, that is exactly, exactly what our staff, our faculty, our students did here at Mizzou. Life and duty. We learn to live live in a different reality, a new modality. And our sense of duty helped us transition into this new reality and do it on steroids, because we had no time. We had no time to wait. The first week in March, we were all on campus. And the next week we had moved over seven thousand courses into a new world where we learn, where we teach, where we meet, where we socialize. Where we Zoom. We learned to serve patients online. We learned to do labs online. We learned to care for mice in our labs, plants in our greenhouses and do it in ways that we would not have dreamt of even a month ago. Even as everything seemed to change and changed by the hour, we learned that some things never change and never should change, our commitment, our commitment to our students, our staff, our faculty, our alumni, to our society and to our community. That will never change. Our staff reached out to anxious students and parents. Our faculty connected with students in holistic ways. How are you doing? Do you have a laptop? Do you have bandwidth? How may I help? Faculty and students came together, 3D printers, textiles. We made masks. We offered to help with PPE. The words land grant. The words land grant acquired a richer and fuller meaning to all of us. We learned that we are proud to serve. We’re proud to serve our students and alumni, our state, our community and humanity. And we are not done yet. As the president just referred to we have some tough road ahead. We have hard work, challenging decisions and some tough actions that we will have to make in the coming weeks and months. But let me guarantee you, we are prepared. We’re prepared for that road ahead and we will always do this remembering the values that keep us grounded, our North Star, our values of respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence. Thank you all for participating today. And thank you for caring.
[00:07:48] President Choi and Provost Ramchand, thanks for those inspiring words and an update from campus. We appreciate your leadership and look forward to asking you a few questions here in a minute. We have a special guest today representing that vast alumni network, more than three hundred and twenty five thousand alumni worldwide. He’s a super volunteer and someone I had the pleasure of working with quite frequently. Please welcome the president of our Mizzou Alumni Association joining us from St. Lois this morning, Mr. Steve. Hay, Steve.
[00:08:19] Hi, Todd and thank you, Todd. Thank you to everyone here. I’d like to begin by thanking our university leadership, led by our incredible President and Interim Chancellor Choi, for guiding us through this crisis. It is clear through our actions that their priority has been the safety of our campus and community and to educate our students. As this crisis continues to evolve, I’m confident they will do what is best for the university. There will be difficult moments ahead. And I feel there’s no better team to lead us through. As this year’s president, I can tell you with confidence that this was not the year I imagined. It has also not been the year our students had wish. That said, it does not change our core goals. It’s been my and our mission to ensure we are all always advocates and ambassadors for Mizzou. In light of this crisis, that means more than it ever has before. We are so proud of our alumni who are out on the front lines. They’re doctors, nurses, medical professionals caring for patients, business owners, diverting resources and supplies to those who need them. They’re entrepreneurs, creating and sharing ways to produce equipment for first responders with the resources they have on hand. And more than anything, they’re looking out for those around them. Friends, strangers, community members and others around the world. The recent Tigers Supporting Tigers campaign has highlighted numerous stories of our alumni doing what they can to help. It has been made clear with what we have always known, that Mizzou is strong, that Mizzou is more than this campus. It is our people and our actions that make this university great. I’ve never been more proud to be a tiger. M-I-Z.
[00:10:18] Z-O-U, Steve. I say that for the collective group that’s watching this and joining us today and thank you for your spirit, your energy and your leadership this past year. I’m going to introduce the rest of our panelists who join us today. Before I do that, let me once again remind you that the way to submit a live question, you can do that at chancellor.missouri.edu and look for the virtual town hall link and submit your question. And we’ll do our best to get those answered over the course of the next 50 minutes or so we have remaining. So let me introduce the panelists that join us today. Jonathan Curtwright is our CEO of MU Health care. Rhonda Gibler, Vice Chancellor for Finance and our Chief Financial Officer. Marshall Stewart is our Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement and our Chief Engagement Officer. Gary Ward, our Vice Chancellor for Operations and our Chief Operating Officer. And Christian Basi also joins us today. He is our Director of Media Relations. So the first question I have for the panel today is for Rhonda. Rhonda, how long and this is from a staff member. So how long do you think it will be before things return to normal a nd the university is hiring employees and supporting Columbia companies once again?
[00:11:36] Thank you, Todd. Boy, I think I could solve some of our financial challenges if I knew that answer. The current crisis is something has been evolving over the last number of weeks and it will take us some time to understand at what point we can have some certainty about the total revenues that will be flowing into the university. So I will say when when we talk about returning to normal, I think the provost did a really good job of helping us all see that normal is just something you’re in at one point in time in it. You don’t ever return back to the same normal. You have things that are a constant part of who you are and what you do. But we learn and we grow and we get better. So I think that over the next number of weeks and into the next couple of months, we’re going to do a very careful assessment of the resources that are available to us. And we want more than ever to be able to to return to a hiring practice that supports the community we exist in. But be assured that we’ll be doing it in a very thoughtful way to ensure that we’re not making promises to individuals that we can’t actually live up to. But we we are strengthened by the community we’re in, by the folks all across the state and the country who support us. And I think it’s that kind of strength that will help us find that path forward in the coming months.
[00:13:02] Thank you, Rhonda. Second question is from a community member and Gary, this is for you. When will the decisions about the fall semester be made and will university facilities be safe when that happens?
[00:13:16] >>Great question and thank you. Like Rhonda said, we have to be very, very deliberate on how we repopulate the campus. This is not going to be a switch. It’s going to be a dail We’re going to slowly start bringing people back. We started having meetings this week, the provost and her deans and other constituents on campus on how do we repopulate this campus and when can we repopulate the campus. The main thing we’ve got to do is make sure we’re following CDC guidelines. So we can start making our plans, but we’re going to not be pulling triggers or anything until we have more information on that. As for safety, when this when this virus first came about, we start hearing about it in late January. We started doing more sanitizing and cleaning of the campus at that time. We didn’t know anything about the virus, but we started just stepping up our game at that time. Then once we started getting guidelines from the CDC, we started really cleaning all of our public spaces and our auditoriums and classrooms and places like that. Since then, though, when we when we went to the stay at home order, we’ve put off the campus. We’re coming back Monday. We’re to start sanitizing and cleaning every single room on the campus. We have foggers. We can go into our large auditoriums, clean those all up.
And every time we finish a room, we’re going to put a notice on that door or that entry saying this room has been sanitized. So that’s what we’re gonna do starting starting Monday. And then we will continue to clean on a daily or weekly basis as we go to forward.
[00:14:52] >>Very good. Thank you, Gary, appreciate it. Next question I have here is for Marshall. What do you think will be the most important issues we face as a state post COVID-19 that the university can be a part of addressing?
[00:15:07] Well, I think it’s a lot there’s a lot of issues we’re going to face. And first of all, I want to say how proud I am of the folks across this state, our partners, not only alumni, extension and all the various stakeholders and how they’ve really embraced and come together to work in these communities. It’s been extraordinary to watch and to sit from where I do and see that. And I think when we look post this event, post COVID-19, there’s going to be several things that seem to me to be creeping up on us now. We’re beginning to see indicators of these. One of those is in a box at or frame that I will call insecurities. And I think there’s going to be some food insecurity out there. We’re already seeing that. And that’s really coming from the area of financial insecurity. And I think we’re going to be very mindful of that. And those of us in extension are working very hard with our folks in the small business area to work with our communities to help those communities think about getting business started back. We’re also working very hard with our folks that work in financial, personal, financial management to help people understand how to deal with those issues. That’s going to be critical. On the food side of that, we’ve just released a new tool called the Missouri Food Finder, which connects consumers and producers together. It’s actually being released today. That will do, I think, some real good work in that as we go forward. So some good things in that insecurity area that I think you’re going to see us step forward into as a university. Second area, I think is going to be really big is K-12 education. We know we have a lot of children at home today. It typically would be a school day. And I think the great work of our College of Education is going to be critical in that area. And I know they have some wonderful work there. The dean and others we’ve talked to, some wonderful things to reach out with there that I think will be really important for families, as well as the programs we do it for 4H like 4H programs in school enrichment and other things that can certainly be there for young people as they navigate this uncertain time in their lives. Then lastly, beyond education, I think there’s going to be a real opportunity for us to step forward in the area of health. Yes, we think about health in terms of physical health. I think one of those big issues is we’re going to face is really in mental health. And how do we adjust and pivot toward that? I tell you, we’ve got some great people in our Arts and Sciences College and the Department of Psychology working on this, as well as folks in Extension, College of Medicine and others who realize this is going to be a critical issue as we turn the corner and get to this new normal and what that’s going to be like. So I think the takeaway from all that is the University of Missouri was founded on an idea of service. Land grant university means that we go that step further, that we engage with communities. We look forward to that opportunity to serve in different ways and new ways to ensure that Missouri is strong, not only today as we go through this crisis, then that world we reach after we get through this crisis.
[00:17:50] >>Thank you, MarshalL. That’s a great example of the many ways that our extension operation supports the state of Missouri all the time but certainly going forward with the situation we find ourselves. The next question I have is for Jonathan, and this is from a staff member-a faculty member excuse me- this a faculty member. So, Jonathan, based on the current models when do you expect Columbia’s cases to peak and how soon after that time can we return to normalcy?
[00:18:21] >>First off, it’s it’s my privilege to be a participant participating day in this virtual town hall. This is a great opportunity to reach out to our community. So thank you for your interest and wanting to be a part of this. It’s my privilege to serve our community and the committed physicians and nurses and staff that we have that are fighting this very challenging coronavirus. We have assembled a highly innovative and outstanding team that is working on this, dealing with this every single day through our incident command system, highly committed physician, administrative and nursing leaders that work very diligently to ensure that we have the best and the brightest answers to this very complex issue. We have been highly innovated over time. We’ve created a drive through testing, public private partnerships with Gene Trait here in Colombia and working very, very closely with our affiliate partner Capital Region Medical Center to ensure that there is a very solid and aligned approach in Jefferson City and Colombia. In answer to your specific question about when will this peak? We anticipate that the peak will be in the last week of April to perhaps the first week of May, in that a two week range. I would say. Now that that’s the peak and we know that that that’s a fluctuating date, if you will. But there are some things that everyone can do to ensure that we’re fighting this coronavirus very well and they’re very basic. But it’s it’s socially distancing. Try to stay at least six feet away from people. Secondly, wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. And ensure that you’re doing your part to ensure that your community is safe. Together, we will get through this. But it’s gonna take everybody doing their part. So the peak we be late April to early May and wash your hands and socially distance. Thanks.
[00:20:25] >>Thank you, Jonathan, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank you and your team for all that you’ve done. We are very blessed to have a top notch academic medical center and we really appreciate your leadership and certainly your teams efforts and just tremendous, tremendous work. We’re going to put our first live question into play here. This is from a staff member. Provost Ramchand, this is coming to you. What are you doing to make sure international students are not being affected adversely because of their unique situations? Obviously, they’re in a very tricky situation, so some concern about international students.
[00:21:02] >>Thank you. And thank you for that question. So, we had six thousand students in our residential halls about a month or so ago. Today we have about over 200 students. And we have made every effort to accommodate students who could not return home whereever home was. And a big part of that, of course, is taking care of international students. This afternoon, I’m having a town hall specifically for international students. Our Office of International Programs has been reaching out to every one of these students to make sure that they’re safe, but also to make sure that they feel like they belong and that they’re being taken care of in every way possible.
[00:21:43] >>Very good. Thank you. President Choi, next question is for you. This is from a staff member. Is the NextGen project moving forward and if so, why, given the circumstances we find ourselves?
[00:21:57] >>That’s a great question. And NextGen has been a priority for the system and Mizzou for the past five to six years. And it’s during trying times like this, we have to ask ourselves, what is our value? What are our values and what is our mission as a university? Mizzou is recognized as one of the top 64 universities that are part of the AAU organization. And many of our faculty members were attracted to our university because of that important status. And so research and creative works that result in high quality publications, but more importantly make an impact to the community and society is what sustains this public research university. And so we are going to continue to make investments in research and creative works. And for us, there is nothing more important in
supporting our research than the NextGen initiative that brings together the expertise across all of our colleges and engages many of our external partners. So that is a project that will continue and continue full steam ahead.
[00:23:11] >>Thank you, President Choi. Provost, I’m going to come back to you for this next one. This is coming from a parent very concerned that Summer Welcome program was all but canceled and will go online this summer. The parents say there have to be options for the welcome program, whether it’s mask, gloves, temperature taking or visitors sign a waiver. What alternatives are being considered to be able deliver quality Summer Welcome program?
[00:23:39] >>Again, thank you for that question. We’re doing everything we can to do both, to balance the need to really to be able to see each other, to socialize, to to make sure that the spirit of Summer Welcome is still respected. At the same time, we also want to be careful about public health and safety concerns for our students, for their parents and for our entire community. So we’re considering all options that would balance both goals and we will get back to them on that one. Any input, any suggestions they have by all means, please email us as you have been doing.
[00:24:19] >>Very good. I appreciate that concern and all the work that’s being done, Obviously Summer Welcome is a big campus tradition on our campus. And I know that our team is working hard to do all they can to make sure that’ll be a success. And President Choi, I’ll have a follow up question that kind of leads into that from a community member. How can we help you attract students for the fall?
[00:24:44] >>Our community members have been just terrific during this period, and they’ve been asking all of us, how can they help? Well, there are so many ways that their participation will result in a stronger university. And I know members of the Mizzou Alumni Association and your alums have been reaching out to students who’ve been accepted to start in the fall, as well as students who are returning or plan to return. And we need to ensure that they get a sense, a strong sense, that the university will be open in the fall, as well as the fact that we are taking measures now to make that experience, that in classroom in-person experience, as safe as possible. And our team is working very hard in that regard. Where else the members can help is providing support to our frontline health care workers. And and even just sending a note of appreciation for individuals who are putting their own safety on the line by treating the most vulnerable among our community. We also need help in replenishing the food banks of the Columbia, the mid-missouri food bank needs additional support as well as a Tiger Pantry on campus. So this is a time when we all need to come together and ask the question, what can I do to serve my fellow citizens? So all of their help is greatly appreciated.
[00:26:16] >>Very good. Thank you. President Choi. Rhonda, this next one’s coming to you and it involves our budget situation. The question from a staff member is, is it possible that everyone takes a 5 to 10 percent cut so they can get through this thing together instead of facing layoffs at the university?
[00:26:38] >>Thank you for that question, and I’ll tell you it’s been very gratifying the number of people at the university who are willing to make sacrifices for each other. I can’t express how moving that is to so many of us that we truly are in this all together. Certainly, we started this week with administrators voluntarily taking 10 percent reductions in their pay. The outpouring of others interested in doing something similar has moved us to identifying a process that will allow others to volunteer to do the same. That said, right now
we’re still in the early process of understanding what the full ramifications of the current climate and economic downturn may present for the university. So I’d be overstating it if I could tell people that folks making that personal sacrifice would allow us to not have any layoffs. We will be very strategic and careful about how we move forward. But as you’re seeing with other businesses, situations are not the same across the entire university. If you look at the university, we’re very diverse where lots of different things happening. And so those situations could vary depending on the revenue sources that drive those parts of the institution. So, again, I can’t say enough about how proud I am of the outpouring of support from the community as well as our individual employees.
[00:28:05] >>Thank you, Rhonda. And as a follow up, President Choi, a live question from a community member. Have our well-compensated coaches also agreed to salary cuts?
[00:28:16] >>So our coaches and our athletics director were very, very at the forefront of taking the pay cuts, and we do appreciate that. And we’re all in this together. And when we had that call out to the cabinet members, to deans, we received instant, instant responses. And we followed that up with additional senior leaders across the University of Missouri System. And I can’t say enough about people who are making the personal sacrifices now to help the university meet its mission. And as we stated, we’re going to face some difficult roads. And these gestures, these incredible gestures, will help. But we also need to make structural changes because we do expect structural deficits to occur because of the finances in the state and the possibility that the students that we expect to arrive on the campus may not based on their own financial situations.
[00:29:22] >>Another live question that we received from a community member. Jonathan, this one’s for you: has MU Health Care provided expanded telehealth services to rural Missouri during this virus period?
[00:29:33] >>That has been one of the most gratifying things that’s happened out of this challenging situation. For years and years, many of us in health care have longed for telemedicine and being able to provide clinical care at a distance to be just a part of how we do our work. In the past, we would typically only do probably less than five hundred visits the entire year. Yesterday alone, we did over a thousand telemedicine visits and the same amount as we did, we’re able to provide in person. So yes, the answer is, is that we are providing telemedicine and the benefit of this is we’re not gonna go back. We have now proven to ourselves that we can provide this care at a distance to make it so Missourians can most, many, many times get their care in their home and make it so they don’t have to come to Columbia persay to get their care. That’s been an unintended and wonderful consequence and outcome of this coronavirus challenge.
[00:30:38] >>Thank you, Jonathan, I appreciate that. The next question is for you, Marshall. Is the university prepared or able to continue to support critical infrastructure around the state like agriculture, small business and community health?
[00:30:54] >>Great question. And yes, we are. I think one of the things that we’ve done here at the university is to really put a focus and really bring a conversation around the issue of the broadband expansion in state of Missouri. And that’s something that’s certainly become very acute during this period of time. We’ve seen the need for and I really want to compliment my colleagues as university leaders who have gone out of beyond and beyond anything we could have ever dreamed of to ensure that young people that are back in those communities are getting access at the extension office or through a hot spot or whatever. We are continuing to drive hard on that issue. That’s one that you’re going to
see us continue to push hard on. I also think in terms of the other infrastructural things we think about, we think about agriculture, which is an enormous industry in this state. Number one economic driver. This is an agricultural state. No question. And what I’ve been really proud of is to see how our specialist across the state, their work in agronomy and working livestock, agro business and so many different areas of culture have really stepped forward to figure out new ways to deliver that content so those producers continue to get the support they need in so many different ways. You know, when you think about the work we’re doing, and Jonathan just mentioned it in health, and to reach out again and find new ways to reach people with health care through telehealth or other methods that people really need. And what this is doing for us is helping us think about new ways to use that infrastructure we have to expand in new ways. To think about our work differently and I think where we’re all going to come out of this, I want to build on what Jonathan said, very different in some ways. And that’s not all bad. I think there’s as an opportunity for resilience here, whether it be in agriculture, whether it be in food insecurity, whether it be in dealing with economic insecurity, whatever those issues are, we’re going to learn some things through this process that are going to make us different and better. And that will enable us to even serve more Missourians in better ways in the future. So lots of good things, I think, on the horizon for us as we look in that post COVID-19 area that we’re going moving into hopefully very quickly.
[00:32:57] >>Thank you, Marshall. Gary, this one’s for you. And it comes from a community member, a few different ones, a pose this question. It’s regarding the Museum of Art and Archeology. And obviously that’s a necessary resource for our students, our faculty and certainly our community at large. Certainly now more than ever, we’re looking more to the arts as we navigate the future, as the world’s changed so much. What will you be doing at the university be doing to reopen and strengthen the museum’s foundation.
[00:33:26] >>That’s a great question. So I got into public higher education many, many years ago because of the added value of our teaching and research missions for an institution. And as the more and more time I spent in the institution I also realize the importance of community involvement. Our museums, our concert series or sports events, all the different things that we do also add value to not only our community but our state. And this has put all of those into a position to where we cannot do those. And just in this last few weeks, I personally miss them. And I know I’ve heard from a lot of people within our community that they miss them. And even right now, it seems to be more important. So it is it is a priority to be able to get these reopened. But as I talked about a little earlier, it’s not something we can just say we’re going to reopen next week or two weeks from now. We’ve got to make sure that whatever we do is safe. The actions we’ve taken as a university in the way that we did our stay at home and then we work very, very closely with our county health department. I think Jonathan will support and say that has been very, very successful in keeping the number of of our patients down. So we want to be very, very careful on how we reopen these facilities, even understanding the importance they are to our community or our state. Now for strengthening the museums, that is something that has been a priority for several years now. And just for the sake of time, I wont go over all of it. We we had to move the museums out of Pickard for some some environmental issues that we had to deal with. And ever since we’ve moved them off campus of goal is to be able to bring them back. We are we are looking now at be able to bring them back on campus were the Student Success Center is at. We are going to be emptying that. Put museums back in there and the goal was to be able to have that done in early 2021. Now, I got to tell you, I don’t know if that it will be early 2021, but I can tell you it is still a priority to bring the museums back, one, out of Mizzou North, would allow us to be able to get out
of Mizzou North and then use that as part of our space reduction strategy as well. So we are very supportive of the arts and will continue to be.
[00:35:42] >>Very good. Thank you, Gary. I’m going to ask another live question here. Before I do that, let me remind folks, we’re a little over halfway through. I want to make sure people understand that they can go online to submit their questions at chancellor.missouri.edu under virtual town hall. Make sure you get those in under the wire. We’ll do our best to ask our panelists today. So the next question is a live questions from a staff member. It’s for President Choi. It’s a two parter. So here we go. Are we already seeing signs of changes in our fall 2020 enrollment numbers? That’s the first part and second part is and what effect will lower enrollment have on on campus services for students, housing, meals, work-study, etc.?
[00:36:28] >>So the answer to the first question is we are actively, actively working with the students and parents to encourage them to come back in the fall. So we are monitoring the acceptances we have with the fall term for both first time college and transfer students and monitoring deposits that are requested to be cancel. And thus far we are higher in both categories for first time college and transfer students in terms of acceptances for the fall term compared to 2019. We’re also going to be monitoring whether students will be…returning students are are signing up for courses in the fall to see if they are requesting plans for not returning in the fall. So those have to be monitored very carefully. It is the only area, enrollment is the only area where we have more direct control to address our budget situation and that we hope to have a healthy a healthy enrollment for the fall. But like many families that are part of our UM System, families out there are also suffering from the recession and the impact of that recession. So they may be rethinking their strategy for the fall. In addition to this, Kim Humphrey and her team are reaching out to students who applied in previous years, but decided perhaps to go to a private university or an out of state public university to encourage them to consider Mizzou for a high quality, affordable education. With a softness in enrollment, we do expect that that will affect the capacity that we will need to serve the students who are on the campus. And so those are discussions that are happening now with unit leaders across the campus to plan for various scenarios in terms of cuts to our state budget, as well as potential softness in our enrollments so that we can have the best plan moving forward with the possibility of a reduction.
[00:38:47] >>Very good. It’s a dynamic situation, no doubt. I know our teams are spending a lot of time working and working ahead as far as they can. Rhonda, this next question is for you. It has to do with the federal stimulus. Initially, it was reported that the state cut roughly 35-36 million dollars in funding to MU. Now it’s been reported at the Missouri House Representatives approved a relief package that includes almost 140 million dollars for the UM System. We know that budget relies on federal funds. But how does it how does this impact our budget? What are implications moving forward with the stimulus opportunity?
[00:39:30] >>Thank you. I would say that I believe that our lawmakers at every level are in the same situation many of us find ourselves that there’s a lot to do and we want to do it very quickly. And so I believe they’re acting as quickly as they can to try and bolster the economy and to provide some confidence about revenues we might expect. But it will take time for that to all get worked out and well understood. We will need to understand the expectations that go along with any resources that we are provided. Typically, when we get federal funding or state funding, there are specific expectations of how that resource will be used. So we’re working very carefully to understand all the criteria that go along
with the support we may receive. So at this point, I can’t tell you for certain how much of what’s being considered will make its way into our coffers. And once it does arrive, we have to make sure that we use it very carefully. I will further say that there are a couple of real knows about our financial situation and then there’s a whole set of unknowns that we’re going to monitor very carefully. So the knowns are that, based on the pressure the state is feeling, they’ve already announced a withholding in the current year. The impact to Mizzou of that is a little over 17 million dollars. And we’re we’re working with our leaders to identify how we will cover that 17 million dollar shortfall that we know we have. We know that, in order to be the kind of institution our parents and students expect from us, we we’ve issued refunds to many students to support their move home, to be in an environment where we felt they would be safer. And their families agreed they should make those changes. But those refunds come at a significant cost. On our campus the total of that is around 15 million dollars. So we have a couple of losses in revenue that we expected to have in this year that do have to be addressed. And those are some of the things you see us doing in the short term to start finding ways to save money. So that the things that folks have seen us do, those are the sort of things we’re doing right now to immediately start trying to save cash, not spend as much money to try and cover the known things that have happened. Then, as Dr. Choi has referenced pretty well, we know that there is some likelihood of a downturn in our permanent revenue. And what I can say at this point is we’re going to follow that very closely. We’re going to work with our leaders to make a strategic and sustainable decisions about how we move forward as an institution. And we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that funds that can be made available to us from the state or federal government are used absolutely within keeping of what our citizens expect from us, but go as far as they possibly can to mitigate the downturn in our ability to deliver our mission. Thank you, Todd.
[00:42:31] >>Very good. Thank you, Rhonda. I have another one for you, President Choi. Right now, health and research data are so important. Are there plans to ensure that resources and departments for health information as well as scientific research are not laid off?
[00:42:52] >>Yes, Todd, you’re right. Those are very important functions for the university. We are going to look at it holistically and to figure out what is… What are the elements of our activities that support the four critical missions of the university. And so it’s too early for me to say which areas are going to be spared, which area is going to take a greater hit. That’s why we are going to be working with all of the unit leaders and taking feedback before we make the final decisions.
[00:43:27] >>Very good. I’ve got a quick follow up to that question, President Choi. It was announced this morning that there is a newly created Associate Vice Chancellor position in the Office of Research. At a time when other people are taking pay cuts, budgets are being cut, staff are being prepped for layoffs and furloughs and there’s a freeze, obviously, on a lot of our spending, is this a position that’s truly needed? That is from a community member.
[00:43:53] >>Yes. It is truly needed. It supports our research mission. And by the way, we are not hiring another individual to join the university. These positions are filled with outstanding faculty members that already are working at the university. So it comes with very minimal cost. But during periods like this, we do have to focus on our values and our AAU status. And the public research profile that we have must be supported during this period.
[00:44:29] >>Very good. Provost Ramchand, a question from a community member: when will a decision to be made about fall opening or closing?
[00:44:38] >>Thank you again for that question. That question is top of mind for all of us. We’re monitoring the situation very closely. We’re looking at the estimates, the guidance from the health care professionals, the guidance that Jonathan just shared. We are looking to our faculty experts who are also monitoring the situation. And we want to make that not one minute later than it needs to be. In other words, we’d like for that announcement to be shared as quickly as possible. We just want to make sure that when we make that announcement, we have a plan in place to address contingencies that may arise despite careful planning. So as we speak, we are in planning mode and I’m hoping to share that as soon as we can. So I know that’s not a perfect response, but we’re doing this very thoughtfully and carefully.
[00:45:28] >>Thank you very much. Marshall, this next question is for you. You addressed this a little bit earlier, but we’ll give you a chance to expand. How will engagment work be considered during this budget shortfall?
[00:45:41] >>Well, I think, first of all, if there has ever been a time that a university has an opportunity to be engaged with the state of Missouri it is right now. There’s an opportunity for us to engage on lots of levels. And you’ve got to remember that engagement is really a great term, because what it means is that we come with our best ideas and the communities, our partners regardless of who they are, come with their best ideas and then we engage and we build something better together than we could have done separately. Certainly MU Extension is one of the central ways we engage. And it’s one of the historic ways and one of the ways we’ll continue to grow and do really well with that. But one of the things that’s also happened in recent years, certainly in my last few years of being at Mizzou, has been this broader engagement idea of where we work across colleges and schools and units and even the alumni, Todd, and work with all kinds of groups. So think about how we really wrap our arms around the institution to live out land-grant mission. Rhonda has referred to this a couple of times as has Dr. Choi, that it’s students success. It is research. It is engagement. It is diversity, inclusion. Economic development. Central to all that is our engagement. How do you engage and drive out the institution that makes the land grant thing so special? And so with that, one of the things that I think we have on our side in terms of our office and our specific work is we have really been working over the last few years with our county partners, with our colleagues across the state, to try to move from being really entitlement driven to be more entrepreneurial. And that’s a big shift. We were already in the midst of that. We’re gonna have to speed that up and be even more that way in the future. You know, when you think about entrepreneurship you’ve got to think about, yes, the university is going to invest heavily in us. I do believe that because it’s central to the mission. But also we’re gonna to have to do our part. And our part is going to be around grants and contracts and fees and working with philanthropy and working with partnerships to really make something bigger than we could have on our own. And that is a game changer that I think the University of Missouri Columbia and certainly across the university system in some ways, can really be distinct in. So the opportunity to engage, to bring the communities across Missouri into our world and us into their world in a meaningful way has never been more important. You know, whether it be in the area that Jonathan talks about with MU Health Care, whether it be across working with Jim Sterk in athletics, whether, again, it be working with particular college, particular unit or some of those traditional and more historic things we’ve done in agriculture, which are so important. And 4H and nutrition programs. It matters not what the topic is or what the idea is, the opportunity today is that we engage with the state. We love the state and the state loves
us. And if we do the right thing and keep our minds on that, we will certainly enable the state to do greater things in the future as a partner, as one that walks alongside of them and helps us be all it can be. Because I think has it ever been a time Todd, and I thought about this in preparation for this, there’s ever been a time for us to think about this state, not in our various parts and pieces, but that we are one Missouri and we are one University of Missouri. And together we can do something pretty special for the citizens that live here and the people that work and play here and help them to return to that new normal that we’re all looking forward to in this post COVID-19 world we will walk into hopefully pretty soon.
[00:48:56] >>Thank you. That’s a it’s a great response and we’re brother in arms in terms of the engagement piece and appreciate all the work that you do and the partnership that we have. We have a live question from a community member that I think is best directed to Gary: since the summer session is now taking place online and runs through the end of July, are people still encouraged to stay off campus? And is the campus essentially shut down until August 1st?
[00:49:23] >>Yes, we are encouraging people not to come to campus to go to their offices or other spaces within the buildings. Obviously taking a stroll on a beautiful day on our grounds, I don’t see any problem with that as not with you social distance. We continue to look at the guidelines that are coming from both the CDC and the county and we’re we’re working with the Provost and her team to try to make a determination of when we can start repopulating that campus. That’s gonna take a little time to figure that out. We don’t even know exactly, you know, what this is going to be like post peak but we’ll continue to monitor that.
[00:50:05] >>Very good. Rhonda, this next question is for you. Recognizing the high degree of uncertainty, can you describe conversations underway about how the pension plan and the health benefits plan might impact retirees of the university?
[00:50:22] >>I would say that one point of pride I’ve had in my 26 years with the university is that we’re responsible. We make sure that we do the things that are necessary, even when they’re hard to take care of the things that we are committed to. And the pension plan has been a long term commitment of this institution. The people who have worked in the university in the past and earn their pension, we do what we need to do to make sure that we maintain that in a strong way. Our course, that it’s always under pressure when you have market fluctuations. But I think we’ve demonstrated for over a very long period of time that we we take care of the pension in a way that we need to. We we have over the last number of years since the 2008 09 timeframe have demonstrated that even in tough times we we take tough actions to make sure that we handle that appropriately. So I do want to assure our retirees that the university lives up to our responsibilities where that’s concerned. What that does mean, however, is oftentimes that it puts a pressure on our annual operating budget, because in times when the pension requires additional contribution because of downturns in the market, it requires us to put additional funding into our benefits programs to make sure that that’s handled appropriately. At this point, it’s still early in the process. We can certainly all hope that the disruption in the market is recovered quickly, and that would certainly help in how quickly we can move past making additional contributions to shore that up. Certainly we would be remiss as an institution if we didn’t consider the cost of our benefit programs as one factor in how we’re going to manage our resources over the long haul. But I also think we’ve demonstrated over time that that we make decisions about benefits in a very thoughtful and strategic way. So when we had to close the health care option for future retirees in the recent past, we had a very
open process and we talked with people about what those considerations were and we made those decisions effective at some point in the future. So I think we will continue to be dedicated doing the right things for the right reasons and being very open with people about the data that’s putting us in the situation to make the kinds of decisions that may need to be made. Thank you.
[00:52:51] >>Thank you, Rhonda. Appreciate it. Gary, this next question is for you. Can you please comment on any campus construction projects that have been delayed due to the COVID-19 situation? Any anticipated timeframe for moving forward with other essential infrastructure projects on our campus?
[00:53:09] >>Sure. So we’re reviewing all of our capital projects, both large or small projects. The president already talked about our NextGen project. That project is moving forward. It is on time. It is on budget. We’ve got an incredible contractor and a group of contractors that continue to be dedicated to making that project complete by October 2021. The School of Nursing project was underway. We have put that on pause for 120 days. It is not canceled, but it is paused. That allows us to catch our breath. We’re very grateful to River City Construction for working with us on that. There is a 26 million dollar exterior skin project that Women and Children’s Hospital. That project is being reevaluated. That will take a little bit of time. And then in addition, we’ve got about 10-11 mission dollars worth of projects for infrastructure projects, roofs and other things like that that we have also put on pause until we have a better idea of the economic situation of the institution.
[00:54:16] >>Very good. Thank you. We’re going to turn to our last question now for President Choi. You’re going to bat clean up here. Before I ask, let me just say, one of the things that I had a chance to answer many times from alumni is how they can help. We get that question quite a bit, but certainly at times like this. And I know we mentioned earlier that Tiger Support Tiger’s campaign. I would just encourage our alumni to visit mizzou.com. And there’s a variety of ways there, whether it’s supporting financially some of our emergency funds that include our new COVID-19 fund with MU Health Care. But there’s several volunteer opportunities there that I think are really important for folks to get involved with, whether it’s recruiting students or celebrating our graduates. There’s just a various ways people can help with their time, talent and treasure. And so we would encourage them to check that out, maybe for our alumni and community members for that matter, too. So we appreciate the efforts so far. We look forward to more action there. But so, President Choi. The last question is could our teams please prepare a list of talking points that could be sent afterwards that highlight the efforts of the university is making to assist our citizens during this COVID-19 crisis and the positive things that are happening at Mizzou?
[00:55:27] >>Yes. Quick answer to that is yes. We will develop those talking points and either send it out by email or place it on our web sites. And as you heard today from our incredible leaders, we are at the forefront and doing things that are difficult with the mindset that we need to implement these plans for the well-being of our community and our stakeholders. So absolutely. And we will love for you to be our advocate and sharing that with your friends, colleagues to show what a university that is truly dedicated to its mission can do. So thank you. So with that, I think I am batting cleanup. And I want to thank all of you for joining us. And we want to thank you for the good wishes that you share and the incredible work that you are already doing in your communities. We really appreciate it. Our challenges ahead are going to be significant, but we do have plans moving forward and those plans will be informed by our stakeholders and that includes all
of you. So we look forward to future conversations. And we hope to see you in person here in Columbia at the Francis Quadrangle. At this point, what I want to do is to cue up our video that was developed by our outstanding team members that shows the pride of being a tiger and the pride of being part of this incredible organization. So with that, let’s roll the video.
[00:57:18] [ MUSIC ].
[00:57:18] >>As tigers, we’re all part of something greater than ourselves.
[00:57:21] >>It’s what makes this community so amazing but especially right now.
[00:57:25] >>And though things are different for the moment, though, we’re apart, we’re never divided.
[00:57:30] >>Because some things will always unite us, like 180 years of tradition. [00:57:34] >>And our core values of respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence. [00:57:39] >>We’re finding new ways to collaborate with each other.
[00:57:42] >>We’re bringing our classrooms to your living room.
[00:57:44] >>And extending the support of our community to you wherever you are. [00:57:49] >>Together we can achieve anything from anywhere.
[00:58:05] >>And in the weeks ahead, we’ll continue to accomplish incredible things. [00:58:09] >>Because wherever our people are,.
[00:58:11] >>That’s where Mizzou is. [00:58:12] >>We’re a family and we are strong. [00:58:14] >>We are united.
[00:58:16] >>We are the University of Missouri. [00:58:19] >>M-I-Z.
[00:58:30] >>Thank you once again for joining us. We wish you good health. Be strong. Stay strong and be safe. And also strengthen those bonds with family and friends during this crisis. Take care and we’ll see you again very soon. Thank you.