The new system president at the University of Missouri is now sharing his plans with local business leaders. On Tuesday, Dr. Mun Choi spoke on the MU campus with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.
Choi’s focus was all about the future and how to run the university as a more successful business.
Choi said there are some key areas to address in order to make and manage money.
The university will be evaluating programs and then deciding what to keep and what to cut. Choi said the university’s research facilities are not up to par or competitive and plans to address that. He also said increasing enrollment is another challenge, although he says lowering tuition is not the answer.
“If we can graduate our students in four years at a very high rate, that’s much better than providing a lower tuition. That prevents us from having more sections of courses so that students can graduate on time,” said Choi.
Choi also mentioned that recruiting more students from out-of-state and internationally could be beneficial because those students would pay more in tuition. That would keep the price more reasonable for in-state students.
Choi also talked about the importance of research, recruitment, enrollment and diversity.
One key piece of the puzzle still missing for Mizzou is a permanent chancellor. Choi said he hopes to bring candidates in for a visit in April and meet with finalists for the position in May.
Choi discussed the impact of Mizzou’s most recent hire men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin.
“We are so excited about the hiring of coach Martin and, as you know, we are a program that’s SEC one of the best conferences in the country and we have to compete in that market. And for us to compete and attract a coach of that caliber through the hard work of our chancellor as well as our athletic director is something that I am very proud of. We are mindful that the revenues that are going to be generated with additional attendance and increased TV contracts are going to be very important to sustain not only athletics program but also the academic and research program at the university,” said Choi.
He talked about athletics as a whole.
“Athletics serves a very important role at a university like the University of Missouri. In many ways, it serves as the front porch to the university that enables us to recruit more students into our programs and also brings the visibility of the university as a top flagship university. But just let me be clear we are an SEC university. We are a university that is competing with top programs and we need to be able to bring in the talent not only in the athletic program but also in our administration and faculty and staff to compete. We are a $3.2 billion enterprise that’s very mindful of our ability to compete with our peers to attract the students, faculty and administrators,” said Choi.
When asked about the possibility of laying off staff, Choi said the university is not at that stage yet, but he will evaluate all options.
“We are not at that stage yet, but, uh, obviously, as I stated in my press conference on March 10, approximately 75 to 80 percent of our entire budget is in personnel salaries and wages. And, so, as we’re dealing with a very significant cut from the state, we are going to evaluate all options, including layoffs personnel decisions, but that will be done in a way in which we collaborate with the campuses and to ensure that we share information in a timely fashion to those who are affected,” said Choi.