MU, UM System leaders meet with lawmakers to discuss issues on campus
JEFFERSON CITY- The University of Missouri's Interim Chancellor and Interim President met with lawmakers at the capitol Wednesday to discuss how ongoing issues at MU will handled.
A large part of the meeting centered around the university's affiliation with Melissa Click, with many lawmakers saying she is unstable and has created what could be the worst image of MU in its history.
Curator Pamela Henrickson said Click was on paid suspension pending an investigation and after that is completed a final decision will be made as to her future.
The November protests that shook MU's campus in November were a hot topic at the meeting, with one question being what the university has done to satisfy Concerned Student 1950's requests.
Some lawmakers added it damages the school's image when a group of people with no authority make demands and MU jumps through hoops to appease them.
UM System Interim President Mike Middleton said it's not the board's plan to fulfill all the requests but that curators are trying their best to meet most of them and improve campus climate.
Middleton said the reasoning behind fulfilling some of the requests was to satisfy the group's feeling of marginalization and discomfort throughout the campuses.
"The students aren't in charge but they need to be heard," Middleton said.
Another concern addressed at the meeting was the decline in enrollment at MU.
Interim Chancellor Hank Foley said the enrollment numbers could be down as much as 900 students by Fall 2016. This decrease could translate to a $20 million shortfall in MU's budget.
While board members assured state leaders they are making progress, many seemed to be wary of the information and responses they received.
Although curators said they are giving it their best shot, some said they feel the actions of MU leaders have been too bureaucratic. The board was under fire for its decision to create the role of chief diversity officer to help with racial issues on campus.
"It's typical government when you have an issue and create a position to fix it," Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles said. "If we just create another layer of bureaucracy and not change actions then it's just a waste of money."
Many lawmakers expressed their frustrations with the time it has taken to find solutions for the issues, especially when dealing with race. One representative said it has been far too long and it's not until the university received international attention that it decided to make changes.
"We are doing our best," Middleton said. "We're certainly interested in involving all of our students in these processes, but as you know these things take take and we're begging you to give us time. This is the chance to make real progress."
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