As reported in the Missourian, Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposed budget for 2018 would cut $40 million from The University of Missouri System’s state funding compared to last year.
Greitens acknowledged there will be “less money for professors, colleges and universities than they expected.” He urged higher ed administrators to “tighten their belts.” They will not have much choice.
In response to the news, University of Missouri system spokesman John Fougere argued that the cuts will “make it challenging for the University of Missouri System to meet its critical statewide mission of educating our state’s future workforce, performing lifesaving research, and helping move Missouri’s economy forward.” Greitens can expect some pushback from his fellow Republicans as well.
University boosters would be better positioned to resist the cuts were it not for the meltdown on the MU-Columbia campus in 2015. After a series of race-based protests, including a walkout by the football team, the system president and the Columbia chancellor were forced out of their jobs.
When the dust settled, the Remington Research Group ran a statewide poll on behalf of Missouri Scout, a website for state political news. Although 96 percent of the respondents followed the events on campus, few among them swallowed the supportive line sold by the mainstream media.
When asked if they agreed with the MU “student protestors’ actions,” 62 percent disagreed, and only 20 percent agreed. For white respondents, the margin was even greater: 63 percent to 18 percent. For that matter, only 51 percent of blacks agreed with the actions while 38 percent did not.
The “message”—whatever that was—did not fare much better than the “actions.” Among whites, 23 percent approved; among blacks, 53 percent. For university administrators, the results had to be particularly worrying. By a greater than 5-1 margin, respondents disapproved of the administration.
The surviving members of that administration need to make a compelling case for additional funds or the statewide system will pay for Columbia’s sins.