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COLUMBIA – University of Missouri leadership reached out to faculty, staff and students Monday to continue conversations on system initiatives, budget concerns and the state of legislative affairs.

A faculty member concerned about the retention of her colleagues sparked the main topic of conversation.

“We can’t do our mission very well at all if we don’t have stellar faculty,” said Rebecca Johnson, professor of nursing and veterinary medicine at MU.

Johnson said she loves working for the university, but said giving faculty new reasons to stay would go a long way.

“Some creative programming would be helpful to engage faculty so we could set up new ways to give us reasons to stay, not to be courted away by other universities,” she said.

When addressing leadership, Johnson pointed out the level high level of performance many faculty members have achieved with little to no recognition.

“It’s all good and well to bring in superstars, but we have superstars right here who have been slogging away for years doing amazing, wonderful things,” Johnson said.

MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright agreed that faculty should be getting more recognition for their work.

“It really does help if we acknowledge, publicize and show the excellence that’s here, and make sure that people see the rewards,” Cartwright said. “We need to make sure that we are nominating them to receive those awards. We have to create that culture.” 

UM System President Mun Choi said the chancellors and CFOs at all four campuses were asked to create a percent performance pool to reward outstanding faculty.  

“That is something that we want to sustain,” Choi said. “It can't be a one and done considering that faculty at many of the campuses have not seen raises for the past three to four years.”

Johnson said she appreciates the move by Choi, but sees room for growth. 

“That’s a wonderful thing,” Johnson said. “We need to look at how to expand those for the future in the context of course of what are the necessary fiscal cuts and restraints that we have to do.”

Johnson said asking faculty for input is a good start. 

“If we're asked, we can come up with creative plans to engaged faculty in ways to help us want to stay,” she said. 

After the town hall was over Cartwright said his biggest takeaway from the event was faculty concerns over keeping outstanding faculty on campus.

“People don’t express their concerns unless they care deeply about the organization,” Cartwright said. “People here care deeply about this organization and they want to make sure that we are successful and that means that you have to be able to voice concerns.”

A message to department heads on how to address looming budget cuts will be sent out later this week. Deans and leadership will meet in mid-May to discuss the cuts in greater detail.