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Floyd: UM could lose recruiting advantage

February 4, 2003
By: Megan McCloskey
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY-MU is feeling the pinch of a too-tight budget that may leave a permanent mark on the school.UM President Elson Floyd voiced concerns about a loss of competitive edge that will negatively affect MU long after the end of the fiscal year.

Floyd addressed this issue at the Education Appropiations Committee hearing Tuesday, where universities and colleges stated their cases to legislators.

Besides the usual complaint of increasingly larger class sizes MU is facing losing valuable grant money and the ability to recruit well-respected falculty.

MU cannot even compete for some grants because the state of Missouri is required to match federal funds. With limited funds and little job security many falculty members are leaving the school.

What's most worrisome, said Floyd, is that these professors aren't taking positions with schools that have better programs. The law school is one example of a program that is losing professors in this manner, he said.

Rep. John Burnett, D-Jackson County, a member of the Education Appropiations Committee, said, this is a generational problem because even if funds are replaced in a few years schools cannot as easily restore quality.

Lack of proper funding could also put MU in danger of losing its research one status. This status is given to public universities by the federal goverment to establish priority funding. Not only does this make the school eligibile for research grant money, but it also attracts researchers to the university.

If MU looses those grants, "We'll lose our best and our brightest," Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said.

MU is the only public school in Missouri that is a research one school. Washington University, a private college, is the only other Missouri school that has that status. Graham said he is worried Missouri residents who cannot afford Washington University will go to other states for research one schools if MU looses out.

MU dealt with budget cuts last year partly by increasing tuition, but Floyd said, "we're getting to the point of pricing students out of the higher education market."

Higher education bears the brunt in most cases when education funding is reduced. MU may be getting to a point where it simply cannot handle any more cuts without hurting what Floyd calls its "high-quality programs," like the Journalism School.

"We'll have to find creative ways to continue to support those programs," Floyd said. "It's my number one concern to keep a competitive advantage."