MU faculty, administrators and staff received a message from President Gary Forsee on Friday.
Let me begin this note by thanking each of you individually and collectively for your efforts across our four campuses and system office to support our mission of teaching, service, research and economic development for the State of Missouri. Your work should make everyone proud of what has been, and will continue to be achieved by our university in these challenging and changing times. While the daily headlines continue to portray a struggling recovery on Main Street, I want us to focus on our role in the recovery of the economy and our continued importance to Missouri as the most significant force in higher education in our state.
With that in mind, I want to let you know that I will be conducting Town Hall meetings on each of our four campuses and the system office during the next 30 days. I want to be sure we have ample opportunity to engage in a discussion about balancing how we plan to deal with ongoing financial challenges with the important actions we need to focus on to ensure our continued strength for the next decade!
I invite you to read my recent comments to the Board of Curators, along with accompanying slides. In addition you may wish to see a letter distributed to important statewide leaders that accompanied these remarks. You will see in these documents a number of key points:
— Discussion of the looming budget challenge for 2011 and 2012, where permanent adjustments to our state support of 5-10% would not be surprising. As you know, last week Gov. Nixon announced significant cuts in this year’s state government budget. While the university’s core budget has been protected from cuts because we agreed to hold tuition flat, nearly $5 million in cuts to programs outside of the university’s core budget (from our hospital operations and statewide TeleHealth program to the MOREnet network serving schools and public libraries, etc.) reflect the state’s budget challenges ahead
— Recaps of all we have taken on thus far to remain as much in control of this situation as possible-including more than $60 million in recurring and one-time savings that were achieved last year
— Challenge for several new initiatives we should consider
— Calls to examine some historic paradigms encompassed in a national discussion that is under way about the value and cost of higher education.
I ask you to review this information, and plan to attend a Town Hall. Shared governance, open communication and dialogue should help mark our path forward. The budget challenges we face by themselves are likely of a once-in-a-generation magnitude. But the potential sea-changes confronting us on all sides will certainly be a test for all of us and require a heightened level of focus, because we don’t look to just maintain our position but to enhance it as we work our way through these issues. I look forward to our discussions at the upcoming Town Hall meetings. In the meantime, if my attached comments spark any ideas and suggestions, I invite you to e-mail me. I will do my best to personally respond to your questions and concerns as soon as possible.
Sincerely, Gary D. Forsee President