COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
During a news conference Thursday, University of Missouri System President Mun Choi said the system could face a $180 million funding shortfall because of COVID-19 and that leaders are going over plans to furlough and lay off employees.
"[System leaders] recognize that we're in for a very challenging, challenging period. In many ways, a period that is worse than what we faced in the Great Recession."University of Missouri System President Mun Choi
Choi said the cuts come from multiple areas including $36.5 million budget restriction from the state government and a possible decline in expected enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year.
The University of Missouri's Columbia campus received nearly $139 million as part of a federal COVID-19 stimulus package approved this week by the state legislature. Choi said the one-time payment would not make up for the shortfall.
Choi said the funding loss from COVID-19 could affect the university for several years.
UM System leaders are expected to meet Thursday and over the ensuing weeks to go over plans to lay off system employees, Choi said. He said leaders will discuss furloughing workers and restructuring positions.
The system had to let go of about 500 employees in 2017 after $100 million dollars had to be reallocated.
Choi couldn't give a date when the decision would come down to lay off or furlough workers but said a choice would be made in the coming weeks and months.
The university will move forward with the construction and development of the NextGen Precision Health Initiative despite budget issues, he said.
"NextGen is going to happen, we're going to ensure that it happens," Choi said.
System leaders expect students to return to campus for the start of the fall semester. Choi said the system leaders are basing their decisions in part on predictions made by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The predictions said, as of Thursday, the peak for the COVID-19 pandemic in Missouri is expected to come on April 21.
Choi said there are plans to disinfect buildings across all four university campuses. He said social distancing measures and virtual learning options would be in place if the coronavirus pandemic had not ended by the time students return.
The UM System is giving students the option of taking a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade instead of the normal grading scale for the spring semester because of COVID-19. Choi said student aid would not be affected by students who receive satisfactory or unsatisfactory marks in their classes.