Universities on track for bump in funding, but Lincoln's increase merely a blip
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Universities on track for bump in funding, but Lincoln's increase merely a blip

Date: January 31, 2013
By: Miica Patterson
State Capitol Bureau
Links: Get the education budget proposals.

JEFFERSON CITY - Lincoln University would receive the smallest increase in state funding out of all of Missouri's public four-year institutions under a new higher education funding model being pushed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Nixon, a Democrat, proposed during his State of the State address Monday a $150 million budget increase for education with $34 million going to the state's public colleges and universities. But just how much of that increase each school receives would now be based on a new set of performance criteria. 

Nixon's recommendation used a performance funding model developed by the Missouri Department of Higher Education that uses five performance measures. The four common performance criteria for all institutions are student progress, increased degree attainment, quality of student learning and financial responsibility.  Each university is allowed to pick their own fifth criteria. 

"The universities were involved in deciding what all the measures were," said Paul Wagner, the deputy commissioner at the state's Department of Higher Education. 

Under the proposal, Lincoln University could have received a maximum increase of $744,000. But the governor's budget would only give it 60 percent of that amount, resulting in an increase of about 1.5 percent of its budget or about $446,000. 

The student representative on the Lincoln University Board of Curators, Traron Shivers, said it was "justified" for Lincoln not to receive the full additional funding but they should have an opportunity in the future to meet more performance measures.

Shivers said Lincoln used to called "the black Harvard of the Midwest," but he said the school no longer lives up to that reputation. 

"I think that forces the administration to put more focus into the students," said Shivers, concerning the fact that Lincoln would only receive a portion of their possible additional funding.

Harris-Stowe State University, Missouri's only other historically black college beside Lincoln, would receive an increase of about 3.2 percent or about $408,000, because it met all of its criteria for its increase. Harris-Stowe will receive a smaller dollar amount than Lincoln because it has fewer students. 

Lincoln University Interim President Connie Hamacher told lawmakers Wednesday that Lincoln supports  Nixon's proposal to base funding on performance because even though  the university didn't succeed on all five performance measures but would still receive additional money on top of their core state funding under the governor's proposal.   

An MDN reporter attempted to call Hamacher and ask her which criteria Lincoln had failed to meet. But Hamacher never returned the call. 

 Rep. Mike Lair, the chairman of the House education committee, said lawmakers are currently working on a performance-based funding formula that differs from the one Nixon supports. The joint committee's formula hasn't been released yet but Lair said he would like to see more than additional funding based on performance. 

Lair, R-Chillicothe, warned university officials Tuesday that money mentioned in Nixon's speech doesn't exist yet and must first past in the legislature. 

But Wagner expressed confidence that his department's model would be the one used to set funding.

"The joint committee is at the beginning stages of looking at a more comprehensive model," Wagner said. 

He also said  since the govenor is backing the higher education department's funding model, the model would be implemented if the legislature agrees to put money toward it. 

Lincoln Controller Sandy Koetting also said the school supports performance-based funding. 

"The university presidents all agree to the fact that there should be some format of performance funding," Koetting said. 

She said there has been discussion on how to implement a performance-based model but one specific model hasn't been agreed on by everyone.  

Wagner said the higher education department would meet with the House Education Committee Tuesday for their yearly presentation of the department's budget. Wagner said a performance-based formula would be discussed then since it's a part of the Nixon's budget request.