U. of Missouri May Cut Back Education School

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The size of the college of education at the University of Missouri-Columbia, the largest supplier of teachers in the state, would be reduced dramatically under a universitywide consolidation plan proposed by Provost Ronald F. Bunn.

Under the provost's plan, the college's $3.6-million annual budget would be cut by one-third over the next three years, forcing the college to drop 75 percent of the 2,200 students in its undergraduate program and 33 percent of its 130-member faculty, according to R. Jo Behymer, an associate professor and spokesman for the college.

The college of education is one of five of the university's 14 schools and colleges--including nursing, home economics, community and public service, and library and information sciences--that would be sharply reduced or eliminated in an attempt by the administration of the 24,000-student university to raise faculty salaries.

Mr. Bunn said the cuts to the five divisions would total $10 million to $12 million, which would be redistributed to the remaining faculty over the next three years.

Faculty salaries at the University of Missouri-Columbia are the lowest among the "Big Ten" and "Big Eight" universities, according to a university spokesperson.

The recommendation to cut funds from the college of education was made, the provost said, after all of the university's divisions were evaluated according to a set of criteria drawn up by a faculty committee. These included the evaluation of a division by accrediting organizations, faculty quality, and the centrality of the division to the overall mission of the univeristy.

Administration Criticism

As has been the case with several other education schools at major universities in recent months--including Temple University in Philadelphia and the University of California at Berkeley--the college of education at the University of Missouri-Columbia was criticized by the administration for poor faculty scholarship, high costs, and a poor reputation within the university.

"The college of education is central to the mission of the university, but not at the level it is currently funded at," said Mr. Bunn. "Concern about the ability of the college to present quality programs, and the cost needed to bring the quality up, were also factors in the decision to reduce the college's budget," he added.

Ms. Behymer said the provost's proposal, which is now being reviewed by a university student-faculty-staff panel, would "cripple" the college of education's undergraduate program. She added that the provost's proposal has demoralized the college's faculty. "Needless to say, faculty morale is going to drop when the provost announces that the decisions to cut schools are based partially on the centrality of the schools to the mission of the university."

'Bare Bones and Less'

"We are down to bare bones and less," added Carol J. Bruce, a financial officer at the college. "There hasn't been fat anywhere on the campus for five years."

Last year, the University of Missouri college of education graduated 400 of the 3,200 new teachers trained by the approximately 30 teacher-education programs in the state, according to Ms. Behymer.

The college had a placement rate of 97 percent that year, with 90 percent of those taking jobs within the state, Ms. Behymer said.

Final decisions on the proposed cuts to the college of education are not expected to be made before June.

Vol. 01, Issue 32

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