State colleges may have fewer courses, larger classes

Monday, December 30, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- The pinch of state budget cuts will be felt with fewer and larger classes next year at public colleges and universities in Missouri, state educators said.

If a student had a choice of four class times before the cuts, one of them may be eliminated, meaning more students in the remaining three, according to a theoretical example offered by Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.

At the University of Missouri-Columbia, deans have been asked to consider consolidating classes with low enrollments next semester and offering some courses less frequently. The university's Rolla campus will cut some elective classes, and classes may be somewhat larger at the St. Louis campus, according to officials.

All four University of Missouri campuses are losing faculty because of an early retirement incentive. Departments with heavy faculty losses include economics at St. Louis, history at Rolla and organic chemistry at Columbia.

In some cases, retired faculty members will return to teach part time. In other cases, other part-time or temporary teachers will be hired to take up the slack.

Even without a retirement incentive, Truman State University in Kirksville has open faculty positions but no money to fill them. Truman students will feel the impact of unfilled jobs in student services such as counseling, and of about $2 million in deferred purchases of equipment for student-faculty research, said Gary Gordon, vice president for academic affairs.

Compared with a year ago, undergraduates in the current semester are paying 15 percent more at all four campuses of the University of Missouri.

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