MU president open to fresh thinking

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Almost any discussion about the budget crunches many cities, school district and universities face these days will include at least a passing reference to the high cost of administrators. This is fueled, in part, by the growth in administrative positions in our city halls and schools. In response to this criticism, the president of the University of Missouri system, Elson Floyd, is proposing a major cut.

The University of Missouri system has four campuses -- Columbia, Rolla, Kansas City and St. Louis -- and each campus has a chancellor. The chancellor at the Columbia campus, Richard Wallace, is scheduled to retire next year. Floyd is suggesting that those duties be added to his own job description.

Floyd says he's looking for a plan that is "relevant to our times." Translation: State funding for higher education has been a target for major cuts, and that trend isn't likely to change any time soon.

University officials will be looking closely at the situation over the next few months. It's refreshing to see an institution so locked in bureaucracy taking a hard look at something that has been taken for granted for nearly 40 years.

Perhaps Floyd's openness to breaking traditional molds will have an impact that reaches beyond the Columbia campus. He already has agreed to consider a merger of Northwest Missouri State University at Maryville into the University of Missouri system. That wouldn't have been on anyone's radar a few years ago.

Keep it up. There are plenty of other opportunities worth exploring.

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