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MU Extension to Address Distance Learning Needs and Streamline Budget

Nov. 08, 2010

Story Contact(s):
Mary Banken, BankenM@missouri.edu, 573-882-6211

Columbia, MO – As part of the University of Missouri’s continual efforts to increase efficiencies and optimize resources, Chancellor Brady Deaton and Provost Brian Foster have announced that University of Missouri Extension’s e-learning program will be realigned, some positions will be reduced, and Extension’s role in the statewide TeleCenter Network partnership will end in favor of a more effective response to the distance learning needs of today’s students. These efforts will result in a nearly 20 percent reduction in MU Extension’s budget and will enable Extension personnel to focus on core missions, including job growth and economic development for Missourians.

“In these difficult economic times, the University of Missouri continues to examine its programs, structure and operations in order to assure that all of its resources are used most efficiently,” said Deaton. “MU Extension will continue its long history of providing local programs to Missouri’s citizens that help create healthier families, more businesses, better communities, stronger agriculture, and an overall better quality of life.”

These strong programs delivered locally include, among others, FastTrac NewVenture, created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs; the Old North Partnership and Community Grocery in St. Louis; My Activity Pyramid to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers; 4-H science, engineering, math and technology projects for Missouri youth and teens; and on-the-job professional training for firefighters, union workers, law enforcement officers, and others who want to update their skills while remaining employed.

“In these difficult budget times, I think it is important to be proactive in determining where and how limited resources will be deployed.  We are taking this opportunity to take charge of our future, for the benefit of the people of Missouri,” said Michael Ouart, vice provost and director of MU Extension.

Three major realignments from MU Extension to other MU campus administrative units will be effective Dec. 1, 2010, and constitute a 15.7 percent reduction in the Extension budget.  Tom Henderson, former director of MU Extension and former assistant to the provost for economic development, will lead realignment of the Center for Distance and Independent Study and MU Direct (for-credit e-learning programs).  KBIA, KKTR and KAUD – Mizzou’s Public Radio stations – and the University Concert Series will transfer to MU’s Office of Administrative Services. The Missouri Film Office, which contributes to Missouri’s economy by bringing filmmakers to the state, will join the Office of the Vice Provost for Economic Development.

MU Extension is strategically planning for an anticipated reduction in the state’s base support to higher education, and therefore is planning for a general operating budget reduction up to $2.7 million for the coming year. MU Extension will end its role in the 15-year statewide TeleCenter Network partnership, which was initiated to bring education to the local level, primarily through the use of interactive audio and video. MU Extension will invest in other technologies to make Extension learning more accessible and responsive to the needs of citizens throughout Missouri.

TeleCenters are located in Mexico, Salem, Jefferson City, Nevada, Kirksville, Poplar Bluff, Portageville, Reeds Spring and Mineral Area.  Approximately 19 TeleCenter positions funded by MU Extension will be eliminated. Additional cost savings will accrue through reductions on and off campus.

Grants to Extension from state agencies also have been reduced significantly, due to the state’s current budget strictures, including those for the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis, fire and rescue training, and MO Fast technical assistance to small businesses.

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