When the University of Missouri's president, Manuel Pacheco, said budget cuts for Missouri's public colleges and universities were so deep that one of the university's four campuses -- Columbia, St. Louis, Kansas City and Rolla -- might have to close, it sent a chill across the state.
Was Pacheco over-dramatizing the 19 percent withholding of state funding in the current fiscal year that ends June 30 and the 10 percent cut in spending for fiscal 2003?
Or was he stating a financial reality?
Not too many years ago, it was generally assumed that huge investments by state government in bricks and mortar would always protect the towns in which state institutions were located.
But in the past 30 years, Missouri has closed many of its operations, like state hospitals, that once employed hundreds of workers.
The University of Missouri isn't likely to shut down one of its campuses any time soon.
But Pacheco's points can't be ignored. At some point, higher education may be forced to make dramatic cuts if state support for higher education continues to take the brunt of balancing the state budget.