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Mizzou has lost a third of freshmen in two years – even after enrollment jump this fall

Spent $1.3 million on a single PR firm; ‘We’ll beat any price!’

The University of Missouri’s flagship campus has a lot less money to play around with, more than two years after crippling protests suggested that Mizzou was run by racial-grievance activists.

How is it spending its money now? PR and lazy rivers, apparently.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the myriad ways the university has cut back and consolidated its spending, following a $30 million revenue hole from freshmen enrollment that has plunged by 35 percent in two years.

This is despite a 14 percent increase in freshmen enrollment deposits for this fall:

Mizzou grew so fast from 2000 to 2015 — eventually hitting 35,000 in total enrollment — that many people thought the university would easily top 40,000 students within a few years. Developers hurriedly built up apartment complexes in anticipation. Now many sit unfilled. “Welcome students!” proclaims a banner on one building, a few blocks off campus. “We’ll beat any price!” …

Some of the savings came from layoffs, about 350 total on the Columbia campus. A handful of senior administrative positions were eliminated or combined. The campus also stopped subsidizing administrators’ cellphones, got rid of a fleet of Mizzou cars, and reduced its mileage-reimbursement rate for university travel.

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But it spent $1.3 million on a single PR firm, 160over90, and then $1.8 million to get that 14 percent bump for fall 2018: “That amounts to about $230 per student, given the current number of freshmen.”

It’s also advertising “free tuition” by paying for what Pell Grants or scholarships don’t cover, urging faculty to use “more open educational resources in their courses” so students don’t have to shell out for textbooks, and – not for the sake of the poor – giving new scholarships to legacies.

The university is also looking for salvation from transfers, making it easier to transition from community colleges: “Over all, deposits for this fall from transfer students are up 12.7 percent.”

But tours are still emphasizing the bling on this unevenly austere university:

On one campus tour in early April, the protests didn’t come up. A small group of prospective students and parents, bundled up against the biting cold, was mostly content to follow along and listen as Sophia Cygnarowicz, their tour guide, chatted about Mizzou and showed them the library, the residence halls, and the luxurious recreation center — complete with a spa and a lazy river.

Read the article.

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IMAGE: Mark Schierbecker/Wikimedia Commons

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