University of Missouri layoffs begin at the system level

Layoffs at the University of Missouri System administration and operations level have started, but university leaders have not said exactly what jobs have been lost and from what departments.

System President Mun Choi said he will make an announcement regarding the budget for the four-campus system on Friday that will include some details about “strategic investments for the short-term and consolidations and centralization efforts to streamline our operation,” according to a statement released this week to the campuses. His announcement will also deal with finance issues at the campus level.

The Friday budget announcement, Choi said in his statement, is the result of nine weeks of discussions, meetings and planning by system and campus leaders, faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders “to respond to fiscal challenges in FY18 and beyond.”

University officials did not respond to emails or phone calls requesting more details about reported system layoffs.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that a “major round” of layoffs occurred Wednesday at the system’s Columbia headquarters, “affecting its lobbying and public-relations operations.”

Layoffs across the system at all four campuses — Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia and Rolla — have been expected since Choi earlier this year instructed campus leaders to outline cuts of 8 percent to 12 percent from their budgets.

University officials have said the cuts are to deal with revenue loss because of state funding reductions, and enrollment declines on the Columbia campus. The Missouri legislature passed a budget with a 6.58 percent decrease in core funding for universities statewide. That’s after a 7.6 percent withholding announced by the governor in January 2017.

While the layoffs reported Thursday are not at the campus level, last month University of Missouri’s Columbia campus officials announced that cuts there would be the largest in recent memory. Officials proposed slashing 12 percent of the budget from all MU schools, colleges and divisions.

Last month when MU Interim Chancellor Garnett Stokes outlined the cuts — amounting to roughly $55 million — he noted there would be personnel losses and the reallocation of certain programs but did not say which departments or programs specifically stood to face the most cuts.

Weeks before the Stokes announcement, anticipating financial woes for the university, MU’s division of operations came out with news that about 25 administrative-level jobs would be eliminated from that unit, effective July 1.

Cuts at the University of Missouri-Kansas City are to be less. UMKC leaders proposed a 3 percent reduction from each school, college and division.

The cuts, university officials said, could come in the form of program eliminations, layoffs, staff reorganization and other reductions in spending.

Friday’s announcement will occur at 1 p.m. in Stotler Lounge at Memorial Union. A live stream will be available.