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Citing tough economy, emerging trends affecting higher education, President Forsee calls for new revenue sources, continued cost diligence, ‘transformative measures’


Christian Basi

October 23, 2009

University to undertake ‘fundamental re-examination’ at the heart of what it does: ‘the engagement of students, faculty in learning process’

COLUMBIA, Mo.–After more than a year of cost-cutting measures that achieved nearly $64 million in savings and reinvestment in priority programs, University of Missouri System President Gary D. Forsee today told curators that “there is more we can—and need—to do.”

Forsee outlined nearly a dozen major national issues and trends affecting America’s higher education landscape, and then focused on a number of specific challenges for Missouri, ranging from the economy and declining funds for higher education to the need for more graduates in science, engineering, math, technology (STEM) and the health care professions.

“Our university’s four campuses and health system must respond, must anticipate and must be innovative in solutions” to the unprecedented level of change affecting higher education and the nation’s economy.

He said a number of specific actions the university will pursue include:

  • Continued budget and cost diligence
  • Making competitive salaries and benefits a strategic priority
  • The convening of regional forums (campus-focused) on capital project funding
  • Exploring elements of the learning process that can strengthen engagement between faculty and students and improve affordability, including e-learning, year-round programs, better alignment with community colleges and high schools, and three-year or ”no-frills” degrees; and
  • Pursuit of new revenue sources—from partnerships such as the Tiger Institute and initiatives that result in jobs and start-up companies, and applying market-based approaches to tuition across the system’s four campuses, to partnering with the state–as was done with Caring for Missourians—to create a match for grants in the STEM disciplines.

In December, Forsee said he plans to review with the curators progress made on the five strategic priorities he spelled out earlier this year: https://uminfopoint.umsystem.edu/media/curator/20090206_stateofuniversity-1.pdf. This review will include findings from two task forces—one of which is identifying programs offered by the University of Missouri System to improve students’ interest in going to college and their academic readiness for post-secondary success. The other is taking a look at how well the university is preparing students to meet the strategic workforce needs of employers and how to cultivate a tighter synergy with public and private sector organizations.

[Editor’s Note: President Forsee and Board of Curators Chair Bo Fraser will address reporters during a brief media opportunity at the conclusion of the Board of Curators meeting. Reporters unable to attend may follow the audio from the board meeting online at http://www.umsystem.edu/ums/curators/meetings/stream.shtml and call into the audioconference press briefing at (866) 434-5269, Passcode 6109108.]