Graduate Tuition Waivers Under Review as MU Examines Budget

Jun 9, 2017

Credit Darren Hellwege / KBIA

The severity of the sting of substantial budget cuts at MU became more clear Thursday when the campus released a detailed report of the cuts that were made.

The 40-page document, which also listed programs and efforts that were safeguarded as MU wrestled with an across-the-board budget cut of 12 percent, lists the details school by school and department by department.

While some of the schools and departments were quite precise in their descriptions of cuts or consolidations that were made, others used more of a broad-brush approach. Here are some of the highlights.

Graduate uncertainty

Christian Basi of the MU News Bureau confirmed that MU would keep its promise made last spring to increase stipends offered to graduate students. 

Minimum stipends for doctoral and master's students were first raised in summer 2016, and the second step of those raises goes into effect on July 1.

The budget information released Thursday revealed few specifics, but it did say in which programs graduate students would be most affected.

  • The Trulaske College of Business and the Truman School of Public Affairs are reviewing stipends awarded.
  • The College of Education is eliminating tuition waivers for its Fellows graduate program and reducing student research assistantships.
  • The College of Human Environmental Sciences expects to award fewer graduate assistantships to new students, but all current graduate students will have their commitments honored.
  • The International Center has eliminated several graduate assistant positions.
  • The School of Journalism will offer fewer graduate teaching assistantships.
  • The Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist focus area has been "put on hiatus" because of low admissions.

Tuition waiver policy is under review campuswide. Basi wouldn't confirm whether students could expect to see cuts but said the review is looking at the "policy as a whole and determining what we need to do to remain competitive and attract the best graduate students to our campus, while at the same time being very mindful of the financial resources that we are entrusted to by the taxpayers of the state."

Graduate students are paid for their assistantships in monthly stipends, the equivalent of a paycheck for the research or teaching they do for MU. Some waivers are only partial. With full waivers, grad students only have to pay course fees, which drastically reduces the cost of their education.

Basi didn't say exactly whether graduate students could expect to be involved in the review process, but said he does expect "a variety of constituents across campus" to have input.

Maintenance delayed

Many maintenance projects across campus are being deferred. 

MU's Athletics Department retained the full amount of scholarships being offered but said in the document that technology upgrades will have to wait. Desktop computer replacements, SEC Network enhancements and scoreboard upgrades are all being deferred, as is non-critical maintenance.

Water line and parking structure maintenance projects are on hold as well, and Operations warned that the campus can expect longer response times on "non-emergency maintenance calls."

Job cuts

Last week, the Missourian reported 343 positions would be eliminated from MU's general operating budget. A more detailed scope of these layoffs was provided Thursday.

Operations will eliminate 25 administrative positions, and Student Affairs will eliminate the equivalent of 83 full-time positions for fiscal 2018 by means of layoffs and attrition. This comes alongside an elimination of 115 full-time equivalent positions for FY 2017.

The School of Medicine will cut 16 positions. The eliminations will come from a variety of roles including non-tenure track positions, associate deans, post-doctoral fellows, graduate research assistants and other staff positions, according to the document.

The reorganization of two departments and two degree programs in the College of Arts and Science into a new School of Visual Studies will reduce the number of chairs and directors in the college by three.

The School of Journalism did not specify a number of positions to be cut, but stated in the document that it plans to forgo hiring adjuncts. The journalism school achieved much of its cut by deciding not to fill positions left by recent retirements and departures.

The Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity only stated, “we have reduced our operation base and staffing positions.”

The College of Education has eliminated nine administrative positions, as well as another four positions cut after restructuring its human resources and finance operations, according to the document. The College of Education will also eliminate four post-doctoral fellow positions.

Mizzou Advantage will cut the equivalent of two full-time positions.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.