UM System responds to proposal of committee to review university

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JEFFERSON CITY - The University of Missouri System is reacting to a resolution Sen. Kurt Schaefer proposed Tuesday, which would establish a commission to review the university and suggest changes. 

In response to lawmakers' criticism over how the University of Missouri administration handled race-related protests, The Missouri House budget leader recommended giving the system $8 million less next year.

Schaefer said, if the university fails to consider recommendations the committee proposes, that will be considered when working on next years' budget.

A representative from the University of Missouri System, John Fougere, said UM leaders have been to the capital numerous times this legislative session.

“We have worked tirelessly to rebuild confidence and trust with our legislators in the University of Missouri System, doing so by being transparent, accountable and fiscally responsible in our actions and leadership," Fougere said.

Fougere said the University of Missouri is important for providing a stable future for Missouri economy.

“Significant cuts to the budget of the University of Missouri System doesn’t just harm the university, it harms our state in a big way,” Fougere said.

He said if the state cuts funding to the university, tuition prices would likely rise and students will be more likely to find higher education opportunities out-of-state.

There is a growing sentiment in the legislature that the university should be penalized for what Schaefer refers to as a lack of leadership.

“I think the University is going to have to be held accountable for what has been a lack of leadership in multiple situations,” Schaefer said.

He said the commission he proposed would consist of eight members, including four members from the House and four members from the Senate. He said the purpose of the group would be to evaluate The University of Missouri System and come back in December 2016 with recommendations. 

“But I think before we take any actions that are going to have long-term effects on the institution, we should have an objective outsider evaluation of what that is, rather than a lot of reactions that cumulatively could have a pretty strong effect on the University,” Schaefer said.

Fougere said The University of Missouri carefully considers what lawmakers have to say.

“We are always open to input from the legislature and we look forward to working with Senator Schaefer on his proposal," Fougere said.