Making a funding model visual

What is performance funding? What does it mean for the university? What does it mean for the quality of public higher education throughout the state? How many hundreds of questions could you come up with when you start to get down into the details of a performance funding model?

It’s complicated, OK. And for the record, performance can most accurately be summed up in the following (Hint: read aloud as quickly as possible):

“At the August (Higher Education) Summit, the Governor suggested a performance funding system under which any state appropriations above the previous year’s base level would be allocated to each university based upon that university’s performance on five measures. Four of the measures would be common to all COPHE institutions and one measure would be independently selected by each university.”

Duh. I mean, what did you think it would be?

Unfortunately, it seems that the members of MU’s Faculty Council may be in the same boat. At their meeting last week, council members grilled UM System VP Nikki Krawitz about details of the plan and had some harsh words for the model’s seemingly total disregard of several major facets of MU’s academic mission. (On that note, Krawitz admitted the model is tailored toward the Gov.’s goal of increasing folks with degrees, not the one land-grant, research institution in the state.)

My understanding was that Krawitz had presented the model to the council members with the intent of fielding suggestions, not defending the model against heavy criticism.

In the heat of it, Krawitz essentially said the train is leaving the station, and MU is on board whether we like it or not.

We have a choice: we can either make suggestions about measures that we can use, or we can talk about all the reasons we can’t use measures. But if we want funding, I’m telling you, you better come up with some measures.

After the fact it occurred to me that in the hour and a half Faculty Council meeting, council members had only provided a handful of suggestions and the frustration was palpable. Which got me thinking: if a group of the most informed, intelligent faculty members still had burning questions and concerns after an hour and a half — how will a full general faculty meeting (where all faculty are invited to voice their opinion) fare?

My hunch is that without more clarity, the meeting might go down much like the last council meeting. So it begs the question, instead of my sloppy, confusing narrative about the funding model is there a way we can visually walk people through how the model will work?

The idea is simply to make it simple. Definitions of terms. Context regarding how the performance model will not affect core funding, only additional allocations to public institutions. An equation to show what information the model considers and how it spits out a number based on a school’s performance in those categories.

It’s still a work in progress, but it’s an idea I’d like to see through before next Wednesday’s general faculty meeting. And the Missourian has an obligation to try to provide some clarity on such a complex issue, especially after hearing the questions and concerns raised at last week’s council meeting.

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