Subject: A Letter to Faculty
Date: 05/21/08 16:32

To members of the MU faculty:

Now that the semester has ended, we want to offer some thoughts about the General Faculty Meeting on May 8, and on plans to follow up. The meeting was a very good step towards better communication and common purpose as we all work to increase the resources necessary for MU to continue fulfilling its flagship mission. We would like to sketch out some items that we believe came out of the meeting.

MU is simultaneously experiencing some of the most exhilarating and challenging times in its 169-year history. On the one hand, the quality of our students, our teaching, our scholarship and our service are at an all-time high. On the other hand, our financial resources, particularly from the State, have not kept pace with our accomplishments. We have all worked this year to communicate the challenges through breakfast meetings, open forums, and regular dialogue between the administration and elected representatives on Faculty Council, Graduate Faculty Senate, Staff Council, MSA and GPC, as well as standing committees such as SPRAC. Several points have emerged to inform our immediate action and to base further discussions:

1. Quality

Above all else, the MU community remains committed to preserving and strengthening the quality of our instruction, research and outreach to citizens of the state and the nation. This priority calls us to aggressively enhance the resource base through private fundraising, enrollment management, and enlisting supporters throughout the state who will communicate to their legislators the importance of a strong state land-grant university.

2. Competitive compensation

Financial challenges are nothing new. In the past, MU has reallocated monies from administration to academics, raised tuition, cut costs, deferred maintenance, frozen hiring throughout the campus, and eliminated raises. At one point, MU faculty salaries reached the median of public AAU institutions; however, since 2001, our salaries have eroded so we now stand second from bottom among our peers. Further reduction in faculty compensation would be irresponsible - MU might be less expensive, but it wouldn't be able to meet its mission.

3. Open dialogue

We must use all possible venues to provide information and obtain input on priorities for allocation of our limited financial resources. Clearly, faculty input must inform planning for the future direction of MU. We want to continue this year's discussions, and you can expect to be invited to several events this next year. Watch your inbox!

4. Implementation

The Compete Missouri plan used money from positions that were open at the beginning of the 08-09 academic year to fund increased compensation for current faculty. Due in large part to Compete Missouri, the pool for merit raises is expected to be in the range of 5.5 - 7.5% in the coming year. (If there were no Compete Missouri, the pool would be only 2%, well below inflation.) Between 2001 and 2007, the number of ranked, tenured and tenure-track faculty increased by 91 to 1149 and the number of ranked, non-tenure track faculty increased by 144 to 777. Compete Missouri will result in a net reduction of 60 positions over the next year.

5. Further savings

The recent progress on faculty compensation is a beginning but the task isn't complete. Further revenue enhancement, cost savings and reallocation will be necessary to sustain this progress. One issue that was identified at the May 8 meeting is the cost of graduate tuition and fee waivers. This complex issue is being discussed by a task force that includes members of the Graduate Faculty Senate and no recommendations or decisions have been made at this time. When recommendations do come forth they will be discussed openly with Faculty Council, the general faculty, and the GPC. Whatever the recommendations, we agree that MU must be competitive with peer institutions for the most talented graduate fellows, research assistants and teaching assistants.

6. New revenue and hiring

Given the enrollment projections for fall and continuing efficiencies, we expect to hire additional faculty, including tenure-track faculty, supported by funds generated by the increased enrollment. These tenure-track positions must align with strategic goals and advantages (, as well as address immediate teaching needs.

7. Aspirations

MU is a great university by any standard, due largely to the aspirations and accomplishments of its faculty. We all need to articulate our message clearly and consistently as we move toward greater excellence.

Professor Larry Smarr, an MU alumnus and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate at Spring Commencement, made the point extremely well during his visit: "Universities have a mission of living in the future." Missouri's future depends directly on the quality of its land-grant, research university. We dedicate ourselves to communicating that need on behalf of us all.

Brady J. Deaton, Ph.D.

Brian L. Foster, Ph.D.


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