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President Choi’s testimony to the House Subcommittee on Appropriations – Education

President Choi testified on Jan. 26 in front of the House Subcommittee on Appropriations - Education. His remarks can be found below:

  • Chairman Black, Vice Chair Shields, Rep. Burnett and committee members 
  • Let me begin by thanking you for your strong support of public higher education
  • Because of your support, we can educate students for the workforce, perform meaningful research and create economic impact in the state.
  • Despite the many challenges of 2020, we kept our focus on achieving excellence in these missions.
  • I’ll begin with some highlights of student success.

Student Success

  • Enrollment this past fall for the UM System.
  • For example at MU, at 30,849, was up 4% from the prior year (~1,200 additional students). 
  • Our spring enrollment is up 3% from the prior year (~900 additional students)
  • Our professional programs, which are unique to the UM System, have been very productive. 
  • Each year, we graduate more than
  • 200 MDs (MU and UMKC)
  • 130 Pharmacists (UMKC, Springfield, Columbia)
  • 2,100 Engineers (BS, MS and PhD from all campuses)
  • 110 VMDs (MU)
  • 500 PhDs (All campuses)
  • These graduates are critical for the healthcare, technology and economic development priorities of the state
  • We are the only public research universities in the state that can do this.
  • We’re very pleased to report that despite the pandemic,
  • Our graduation rates, the most important factor for student success, are at an all-time high for all 4 universities.
  • Just last night, USN&WR released their rankings for 2021 best online programs:
    • S&T’s engineering master’s ranked #18th in the country.
    • UMKC’s Master of Nursing ranked #23rd in the country.
    • Mizzou’s bachelor’s programs ranked #14th in the country.
    • And UMSL ranks #16th in the country for social mobility.
  • We’ll continue to achieve excellence so that students can receive an unmatched education.

Research Success

  • As you know, we’re only public research universities in Missouri.

    • As such, we take this mission very seriously.
  • Each year, our universities perform more than $450M in R&D in a variety of fields.
  • The impact is simply immense:
    • At S&T, Professor Laura Bartlett and her colleagues are creating advanced metals for armor and hypersonic planes through a $20M Department of Defense Grant.  (this ties into the phenomenal $300M Kummer Gift to S&T)
    • At UMKC, Professor Holly Hagle and her colleagues are developing new prevention and treatment programs for opioid addition through a $13M grant.
    • At UMSL, Professor Shea Kerkhoff and her colleagues are producing new research to increase literacy in Missouri through a $2M grant.
    • At MU, Dr. David Robertson and his colleagues just signed a long-term partnership with a Novartis company to create new treatments to treat breast and prostate cancers.
  • There are thousands of projects like these.
  • And through our research, we are literally saving lives.
  • The cancer project is a key component for NextGen Precision Health
  • Your support for NextGen is greatly appreciated.
  • This example shows the impact of NextGen can be,
    • more than 70,000 people in the world with liver cancer have been treated using Therasphere (our breakthrough from 20 years ago that involved technologies from S&T and MU.) 
  • The goal for NextGen is to accelerate the biomedical discoveries to improve and save lives right here in Missouri.

Engagement and Outreach

  • During the pandemic, our role as the Land Grant university made an impact to every region of the state.
  • Our faculty, staff and students:
    • Produced COVID PPEs that were in short supply in many regions of the state.
    • Supported rural healthcare needs through more than 1,000 telemedicine visits per day.
    • Created mass COVID testing programs for citizens throughout mid-Missouri.
    • Increased access to rural broadband by supporting the efforts of electric co-ops.
    • Assisted farmers and small business with access to government PPP loans to sustain their businesses
    • Worked with veterans to get much-needed benefits that they were entitled to.
  • Our mission as Land Grant universities is simple. 
    • We will wake up each day and ask how our work can support Missourians and improve their lives.

Response to our budget crisis

  • It is often said that our universities receive more state support per student than any other university.

    • That is true……But, we’re also asked to do far more… and we deliver.
  • In many ways, we go above and beyond what is expected of a typical university because of our RESEARCH and EXTENSION mission and the mandate to provide professional degrees like medicine and engineering.
  • In many states, these important missions are carved out from the core to reflect their importance to the state. 
  • When these mission differences are considered,
    • we are funded at around $4,000 per student
    • This is not only the lowest in the state of Missouri but one of the lowest in the United States.
  • During the past 4 years, we’ve transformed our university to address the financial challenges.
    • For example, we’ve cut nearly $300M from our budget and reduced 1,500 administrative positions.
    • But, further cuts will have a lasting effect that are deleterious.
  • In my mind, there is no more important investment than in public higher education
      • The investment for workforce training, research, extension and professional degrees create economic benefits for the state.
      • In 2018, we measured $5.4B in economic impact to Missouri through our work. 
      • That is a staggering 13 to 1 in return on investment for the state.
  • In closing, I leave you with our request for FY22: 
  • We are requesting $428 million to maintain our core funding
  • as well as the $10M for NextGen Precision Health to be rolled into the core so that we can continue to improve and save lives in Missouri.
  • I want to thank you for taking the time to bring us here today

Reviewed 2021-01-27