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University of Missouri President Talks to KSMU About Future of MU, Relationship with MSU

This year in Missouri, there’s a lot of emphasis on how state budget cuts will affect state colleges and universities. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore recently sat down with the president of the University of Missouri System, Tim Wolfe, and has this interview.

“We had some good news in that the [Missouri] House and the Senate both approved a budget that raised the planned decrease of 7.8% of funding for four-year institutions in the state of Missouri. They changed that to flat funding every year, which to the University of Missouri system is an incremental $30 million,” he said.

Wolfe said the University of Missouri system, in preparing for a 7.8 percent budget reduction, took a hard look at its investments. 

“There is going to be a head count reduction across the UM system,” he said. It could mean as many as 200 people are laid off, but he said he doesn’t anticipate it to be that severe.

The incremental funding of $30 million, he said, if approved by the governor, will go toward need-based scholarships, as well as fixing classrooms and buildings in disrepair.

He cited Springfield’s new “Tiger Club,” which has over 300 members, as evidence that the University of Missouri’s reach into southwest Missouri is strong.

Wolfe said in Greene County, there are 246 doctors who went to medical school at MU or UMKC, and Greene County has 166 nurses, 142 dentists, and 93 K-12 teachers who credit the University of Missouri for their degrees.

When Southwest Missouri State University changed its name from SMSU to MSU, there were many within the University of Missouri system who staunchly opposed the name change, and even held up the legislation for years.

When asked about whether any of their concerns have come to fruition, Wolfe said it’s “water under the bridge,” because the issue doesn’t even come up.

“Before this conversation, I was with Clif Smart, interim president of MSU, and we continue to talk about further ways we can collaborate and complement each other,” Wolfe said.

Some of that collaboration includes a pharmacy doctorate program between UMKC and MSU, and partnership between engineering programs between MSU and Missouri S&T. The two schools are also working on having common accreditation for their courses, making it easier for students to use credits from either university.