An anticipated enrollment decline of 1,500 students following protests that roiled the University of Missouri has forced the college to cut general revenue budgets by 5 percent and institute a hiring freeze to help close a projected $32 million shortfall.
Interim University of Missouri chancellor Hank Foley sent a memo to the campus on Wednesday detailing the moves, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
“I am writing to you today to confirm that we project a very significant budget shortfall due to an unexpected sharp decline in first-year enrollments and student retention this coming fall,” Foley wrote in the memo.
Foley’s memo did not address the protests, which stemmed from what some students perceived as indifference by university administrators to racial discrimination. But officials have said they believe the turmoil, which culminated with the resignations of the former system president and campus chancellor, contributed to the enrollment decline.
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Vice Chancellor Gary Ward discussed the university’s budget Wednesday at a meeting of the regional economic development board, where he said the budget gap will affect hundreds of university employees.
“Realize most of our expenses are people,” Ward said. Take “$32 million, and look at an average salary of $40,000, $50,000, and we’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of positions impacted.”
The 5 percent cut would eliminate about $20 million of the shortfall, Ward said, leaving the university with a $10 million gap. He stressed that the revenue drop was independent from threatened legislative cuts to state funding.
Missouri House lawmakers have proposed chopping $1 million from the Columbia campus and shifting those funds to Lincoln University, the historically black college in Jefferson City.
The cuts proposed this week for MU’s flagship campus would be on top of $7.6 million in cuts that Missouri lawmakers had earlier proposed for the entire university system’s budget.
The House is expected to send the budget plan to the Senate on Thursday.
Missouri lawmakers have repeatedly criticized university administrators for how they handled student concerns and have threatened to cut state funding.
The Associated Press and The Star’s Mará Rose Williams contributed to this report.