Fireside Chat

Photo by Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

President Choi presides over open forum

University of Missouri System President Mun Choi invited the entire campus community to an open forum in early March to discuss current UM System initiatives. With no limitations on comments or questions, members of the University of Missouri-Kansas City community weren’t shy about asking questions they felt needed answers.

Choi was joined on stage by Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, UMKC’s interim chancellor and provost. The pair fielded questions and comments on topics ranging from the state and university budgets, to graduation rates, to job security.

Choi talked about the need to improve graduation rates, particularly for minority students, as a responsibility the university takes on by admitting students and charging tuition.

The university system’s standing and reputation statewide, and among legislators, is improving, Choi added.

Bichelmeyer said that even if previous levels of state funding are restored, the university still faces a need to change the way it operates in order to improve recruiting, retention and graduation rates; and to meet the evolving demands of 21st century students and a 21st century society.

While faculty and staff members expressed concerns about the impact of potential budget and personnel cuts, Bichelmeyer stressed that the goal of university leadership is to retain and reward strong performers among both faculty and staff. Choi cited a 30 percent increase in applications to UMKC as an example of the kind of high performance the university wants to encourage and reward.

Bichelmeyer said faculty and staff should look forward to a communication coming soon regarding a plan for a shared services approach to budgeting designed to not just reduce costs, but generate resources to invest in strategic initiatives.

Overall, the two leaders said, they are optimistic about the future and where we are headed.

Early in the session, a small group of people, including some students, briefly interrupted the proceedings to protest what they called “tolerance” of rapists by the university, even though no one at UMKC has been charged with rape. Members of the group began with shouts, but Choi handed one a microphone, and said he was willing to listen to their concerns.

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