ST. LOUIS • There aren’t really boundaries to a new, formalized partnership between Lincoln University in Jefferson City and the University of Missouri System.
That’s the point.
“The University of Missouri is fortunate to have a long-standing partnership with Lincoln University, which shares our mission to serve the state of Missouri and beyond,” University of Missouri System President Mun Choi said in a statement. “Today’s agreement takes our historic partnership to the next level and will leverage our mutual strengths for the greater good of our state, nation and world.”
The governing boards for both institutions signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday.
The goal is to find ways Lincoln and the university system’s four campuses can utilize each other’s resources and human capital to benefit each other. Mizzou and Lincoln are both land grant institutions with research components, and there could be opportunity to leverage that.
There’s also a chance that this formalized partnership builds into a bridge program similar to what Fisk University and Vanderbilt University have in Nashville.
The Nashville program pairs the elite research institution, Vanderbilt, with a Historically Black College and University, Fisk, to give students a dual enrollment program to finish their master’s and doctorate degrees.
The goal there is to increase the number of minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
It’s plausible that a similar program could happen with Lincoln, another Historically Black College and University, and Mizzou, a research school. Nothing appears to be off the table as those discussions continue.
Lincoln is losing their president, Kevin Rome, who will soon become the next president of Fisk University. In lieu of his absence, former longtime Mizzou and University of Missouri System administrator Michael Middleton is stepping in as interim president.
Rome recently questioned whether the declining state appropriations to Missouri’s 13 public colleges is part of an effort to pare away at some of the smaller schools like Lincoln.
The school announced in May that because of a $3.8 million budget shortfall, 48 positions are being eliminated, including about 15 faculty members.
Meanwhile, the University of Missouri System continues to handle a $100 million budget situation, including more than 400 positions being eliminated. Granted, a chunk of that overall savings is coming back to the campuses to reinvest in more hiring and a greater focus on the areas each school does well in.
In a time of financial struggle for the universities, the leaders are hoping this formal, five-year partnership could spur something positive.
This partnership allows leaders to find ways to “utilize respective strengths and develop opportunities for our students, faculty and economic development,” said Christian Basi, a longtime spokesman for Mizzou who is now also the spokesman for the University of Missouri System.