Missouri Budget Cuts Threaten to Cripple Small Colleges, Says Departing Lincoln University President

By Jost, Ashley | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 23, 2017 | Go to article overview

Missouri Budget Cuts Threaten to Cripple Small Colleges, Says Departing Lincoln University President


Jost, Ashley, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


JEFFERSON CITY * State funding, or lack thereof, isn't the sole catalyst for Kevin Rome leaving his post as president of Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

But it is a factor.

For four years, Rome has led Lincoln through budget cuts, a limited ability to increase tuition to keep up with education costs and through multiple rounds of layoffs including some this week.

"As a president it's very disheartening to think that I'm at an institution and we don't have the resources to be successful," Rome told the Post-Dispatch. "That's a direct reflection of me. As the state thinks about recruiting talent, particularly in higher education leaders, I think it will be more difficult if you are not setting (them) up for success."

Rome leaves June 15 for Nashville where he will become the next president of Fisk University. Like Lincoln, Fisk is a historically black college, but it's private.

Elected leaders pointed to higher education cuts as a necessity to force schools to "tighten their belts." Higher education has been privy to cuts during past administrations, too.

But unlike some of the larger universities that leaders point to as places that perhaps have more room to shrink, Rome said Lincoln, one of the state's smallest colleges with about 2,000 students, has no more administrative bloat or fat in general to cut.

Unlike most schools, Lincoln has one vice president. And now the cuts are getting close to the affecting student services, he said. Rome hopes he's wrong.

"I spent many days and nights wondering where the resources are going to come from, how we can support our faculty and our staff," Rome said.

On Monday, the school announced that because of a $3.8 million budget shortfall, 48 positions are being eliminated, including about 15 faculty members. The school reports having 96 faculty members total this past school year, ranging from lecturers to tenured professors.

"It's just all of these elements it's like the perfect storm," he said. "No funding, no increases, no resources. Eventually you're going to have no students. …

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