For months, news has trickled out of Missouri regarding the negative fallout from the fall student protests. The university capitulated in the face of a racial “crisis” wholly of the protesters’ manufacture (demanding a chancellor’s resignation over random racial incidents completely outside his control), and the chickens are truly coming home to roost. Previously, I’ve posted about declining student applications and declining donations, yet the true dimensions of the financial disaster are only just now coming into focus. Fox Sports has obtained a copy of the interim chancellor’s ;letter to the university community:
I am writing to you today to confirm that we project a very significant budget shortfall due to an unexpected sharp decline in first-year enrollments and student retention this coming fall. I wish I had better news.
The anticipated declines which total about 1,500 fewer students than current enrollment at MU in addition to a small number of necessary investments are expected to leave us with an approximate $32 million budget gap for next year. A smaller entering freshman class will have continuing impact on finances as they progress toward their degrees at MU.
We are implementing an across-the-board hiring freeze for all units on campus. We urge all campus administrators to carefully review their staffing levels and to not refill any positions unless they are absolutely necessary to the mission. Decisions to add faculty or staff must be exceptional, but will be left to the discretion of the deans, vice chancellors, vice provosts and the director of athletics.
We will not have an annual merit increase program this year. Effectively that means merit increases are at zero for the entire campus. Promotional increases for faculty will still be provided.
Cowardice has its costs. Flagship state universities — backed by the full financial might of the state and its taxpayers — are for now too big to fail, but they’re not too big to suffer. It remains to be seen whether other university administrators will learn the correct lessons from Missouri’s capitulation.