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After major cuts, Missouri universities get $260M for new scholarships and research

University of Missouri System President Mun Choi on Friday announced that universities would receive an anticipated $260 million in investment earnings for scholarships, research and faculty recruitment.
University of Missouri System President Mun Choi on Friday announced that universities would receive an anticipated $260 million in investment earnings for scholarships, research and faculty recruitment. File photo

The University of Missouri System plans to funnel about $260 million over the next five years into efforts to make its four campuses more attractive to, and a better bargain for prospective students.

System President Mun Choi made the announcement Friday morning, addressing the campuses in Kansas City, Columbia, Rolla and St. Louis.

The money would come from investments expected to generate about $50 million a year, as well as from funds saved from the system’s administrative cuts last year.

System officials said the one-time money surge would further efforts to redirect spending toward more scholarships, research and savings for students.

“During the past two years, university leaders have re-allocated millions of dollars to make a college education at the system’s four universities affordable and accessible to Missourians” Choi said. “As a result, student enrollment is up, retention is high and spending on research is growing.”

In August the system’s flagship campus in Columbia, which has seen years of enrollment decline, announced that this year’s freshman class is 13 percent larger than last year’s, the biggest freshman enrollment jump in decades. A record 87.3 percent of the previous year’s freshmen returned.

Choi said that while cuts across the system, including the loss of hundreds of positions, were painful, “they were necessary to create a more resilient university. … It’s now time to make meaningful investments to achieve excellence.”

In Columbia, for example, Chancellor Alexander Cartwright announced in June that in an effort to manage a $49 million budget shortfall, MU would eliminate 185 positions and lay off 30 staff members. He said the university also would reduce travel, eliminate some courses with low enrollment, cut down on sponsorships of some events and convert several printed products into online-only publications.

At the same time, he said, Mizzou put more than $100 million toward scholarships and graduate student support and lowered tuition for recipients of Pell grants and ROTC scholarships.

The four university campuses are expected to make proposals to get their hands on some of the $260 million, promising to match it and pour it into a scholarship opportunity or research advancement on their own campuses.

Here’s how the system plans to divide the funds:

$100 million for scholarships, about a third of them need-based and $25 million merit-based, and for recruiting “academically outstanding” Missouri students to the four universities.

$50 million for research and creative works.

$20 million for digital learning initiatives and to increase the number of online degrees.

$12 million to attract outstanding faculty “who will significantly increase scholarly and research output.”

$10 million to encourage new industry partnerships.

$8.5 million toward recruitment and retention of faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds.

$7.5 million for faculty and staff development programs.

The University of Missouri System President-designate Mun Choi received a warm welcome on his first visit to Kansas City during a welcome rally in 2017 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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