The four-campus University of Missouri System will not delay adding faculty, expanding research and supporting students until revenue rebounds from current budget shortfalls, President Mun Choi said.

Choi said the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla will add 18 faculty members. Engineering, business and medical schools in Columbia also will add faculty, The Columbia Daily Tribune reports.

"They will be hiring faculty members who are going to elevate the research and the teaching mission of the university," Choi said during a news conference Friday after his first regular Board of Curators meeting. "So we are not retrenching."

Curators were told Friday that the Missouri system will need to cut 8 to 12 percent across its operations to balance its budget. That is a long-term figure designed to prepare for more reductions in state funding and to free resources for research, new faculty and student support, Choi said.

State colleges and universities, including the Missouri system, are facing a 6 to 9 percent reduction. A tuition plan discussed Thursday, with a 2.1 percent hike for in-state undergraduates, will not raise enough new revenue to offset declining enrollment.

About $1.2 billion of the university's $3.2 billion budget is spent on academic operations. The loss of state revenue could be about $30 million and the decline in tuition revenue, if the current plan is approved, would be about $8.5 million.

Choi said the university is behind public institutions in other states in attracting research grants, providing space or supporting lower-income students. He said the Columbia campus received $24 million more in federal grants in 2013 than in 2003, but the University of Minnesota attracted an additional $195 million in grants and the University of Illinois received $51 million more.

The number of tenured faculty has declined on three of the four campuses since 2012, with the Columbia campus down almost 100 positions, he said. The space deficit for research is 242,000 square feet.

He also said support for students who are eligible for Pell Grants must be addressed, noting the net cost of attendance for those students is significantly lower at the University of Illinois, Indiana University and the University of Michigan but graduation rates for Pell-eligible students attending Missouri are well below those schools.

The curators will decide tuition rates next month and set the budget for the coming year at a June meeting.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune,