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'Some People Are Going To Lose Their Jobs' As UM System Makes Other Investments

Courtesy UM System

It’s likely layoffs will be necessary to pay for what University of Missouri System President Mun Choi outlined as priorities in a speech last week.

That’s according to Board of Curators Chairman David Steelman.

“Some people are going to lose their jobs. There are going to be program cuts, but we’re going to get the money now for the investments this state needs,” Steelman said Wednesday on KCUR’s Up To Date.

Choi has called for $260 million for scholarships, research and faculty recruitment over the next five years. Steelman said consolidating administrative services across the four campuses could generate significant savings.

“We think we can generate at least $50 million a year, maybe up to $80 million,” Steelman said. “Not everyone needs the same amount of HR. Not everyone needs an online campus.”

Steelman said the UM system has to spend wisely because additional appropriations for higher education at the state level are unlikely anytime soon.

More students, more revenue

Also Wednesday, Steelman said the University of Missouri-Kansas City needs to dramatically increase enrollment to compete with other urban universities.

“What this community needs is a vibrant and active university,” Steelman said. “I don’t see how that comes to fruition without 2,500 more undergraduate students, maybe 5,000.”

He added that curators aren’t pursuing a downtown arts campus anymore because they couldn’t justify the expense for so few students. But he thinks a conservatory near the Volker Campus could attract more students to Kansas City.

UMKC currently enrolls about 8,000 undergraduates.

KCUR is licensed to the University of Missouri Board of Curators and is an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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