Mizzou’s Chickens Come Home to Roost

May 17, 2017 |  Dion J. Pierre

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Mizzou’s Chickens Come Home to Roost

May 17, 2017 | 

Dion J. Pierre

The University of Missouri announced plans to lay off roughly one hundred staff members as part of a plan to cope with projected revenue shortfalls. For two consecutive years, Mizzou has faced declining freshman enrollment. Per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"Amid budget cuts and an anticipated 7.4 percent drop in enrollment, leaders at the University of Missouri-Columbia are expecting to trim about 400 positions.

Most of the jobs would be cut through attrition, with fewer than 100 layoffs projected. Interim Mizzou chancellor Garnett Stokes announced the budget details at a campus forum Monday…

The loss of students would result in about $16.6 million less in revenue. Leaders hope to make up about $7 million of that through a 2.1 percent increase in tuition."

Mizzou’s purge won’t be exclusive to faculty and staff. Just last month, the school closed three more residence halls, adding up to a total of seven halls shuttered in the last year alone. And despite some officials’ attempt to pin the school’s fiscal woes on a “declining number of high school graduates across the region,” they ultimately admitted to “ongoing public perception concerns.”

Perhaps “fixed negative perception” more accurately describes the problem.

It isn’t hard to see what’s endangering the Mizzou Tigers. Mizzou’s Melissa Click became the face of campus illiberalism a year and a half ago when she called for “some muscle” to oust a student journalist from a public protest. Meanwhile, System President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin typified the craven administrators who caved to student protests and failed to preserve order. 

As the cost of college continues to outpace the rate of inflation, it’s becoming harder to ignore the shabby curriculum and racialized climate that defines the modern campus. Declining freshman enrollment at Mizzou is, at the least, an indication that parents are thinking twice before sending checks to institutions where students are doing everything but learning –or where their safety is at risk.

Unfortunately, elite schools with similar problems are immune to some of the pressures Mizzou faces. Yale, where a mob of students hounded Nicholas and Erika Christakis off-campus because they questioned a Halloween costume guide, will continue to see the money roll in; parents will take pride in bragging about their kids’ entry into the “club” and there are few unemployed Harvard graduates.

Still, the higher-education establishment at large should be on notice. A recent Pew study found that a growing number of Americans are attracted to affordable, non-traditional-four-year schools. This means colleges hoping to avoid Mizzou’s fate should think of ways to increase their value. Parents are increasingly skeptical of the higher ed establishment, and yet dependent on it for their children’s job prospects. They’re looking for better alternatives. 

And as our own Peter Wood recently wrote, meaningful reform requires rethinking our approach to and expectations of higher education. This is no easy task. Fixing the financial model, restoring liberal education, restructuring student borrowing, and dismantling the diversitocracy are just some of the solutions policy makers should pursue.

The higher ed establishment will fight tooth-and-nail any proposal that undermines their status, but this backlash could favor reformers. A public debate about the sclerotic state of our universities will reveal the complacency of the establishment, for whom reform would mean fewer diversity dollars and less schmoozing with rich, progressive donors. That debate, however, is beginning to take shape, and what's happening at Mizzou is likely to spread. 

Image: Jesse Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia by Adam Procter // CC BY 2.0

Glen W Spielbauer

| May 19, 2017 - 2:26 PM


Community  Colleges   and   a growing number of Adult   Universities Are  Making Traditional    “Residential”  Universities   Obsolete    -
         
The “traditional” student who goes straight from high school  to college is a becoming a relic of the past. Mature, over age 25 students with
family and job responsibilities is  now the “New  Normal” at a growing number of institutions.
 
Dormitories, athletics, fraternities, and so on are not considered essential to older, more mature students.  Yet,  many  four-year  colleges and universities are stuck in the past. This is
changing, however.
 
Community  Colleges and a small but growing
number of four-year colleges and universities
do cater  to adult  students.  They accept
all  transfer  credits from  a  two-year  school  in special  bachelor’s  degree  programs designed for   those  with  technical  Associate’s  Degrees  (such  as  engineering  technology, robotics,  or  Allied  health  care  workers).
 
These degree programs often go by names such as Technology  Management, Industrial  Operations,
Training and Development  or Applied Studies.
 
Examples include Amberton University in the Dallas, Texas area, Dallas Baptist University, and Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri.
 
This is long overdue - The huge state mega-
university systems should be scaled down - with
more resources for local community colleges,
and those small intimate four-yar colleges
for focused, serious ADULT students.