Are we spending our time correctly?

Ibuprofen retailers across the Columbia metro area are breathing a sigh of relief after a convoluted performance funding proposal forced all involved to make a run on headache relief medication the past six weeks.

Credit to graphics gal Rachel Rice at the Columbia Missourian for putting together this visual.

But all is calm now, as it seems that the train that left the station weeks ago is well out of sight now — the performance measures faculty members hotly debated for several weeks made it through Wednesday’s general faculty meeting without a scratch.

Faculty seemed pretty apathetic to performance funding in way that had to be expected, I guess, after the bleak warning MU Budget Director Tim Rooney issued before the presentation of the performance measures.

Missourian columnist (and former executive editor) George Kennedy said it best when he said, “Tim didn’t hesistate to wipe the smiles off our faces.” Rooney briefly, matter-of-fact-ly explained we definitely won’t be getting any new funding next year — in fact, he said we could be facing a 5% decrease.

Krawitz went one step farther, claiming we shouldn’t expect new funding the year after, either — or the year after, or the year after, or the year after.

And since performance funding measures would only apply to new funding, Krawitz urged faculty not to fear if Mizzou isn’t adequately represented by the proposed measures because they’ll never get used without new funding.

I tried to encapsulate that in my most recent article about the model:

Laughter rattled through Chamber Auditorium in the MU Student Center as Nikki Krawitz, University of Missouri System vice president for finance and administration, answered one short but important question about the funding model.

The question: Does this make any difference whatsoever?

“The short answer?” Krawitz said as laughter subsided. “No.”

Not to discredit the importance of the discussion about performance funding measures — or the hard work Krawitz, her task force, COPHE and college administrators across the state have done — but if we really can’t expect new funding to be used with the performance measures, did we all just waste our time?

It’s a silly hypothetical question but, how much money could we have raised if every minute we had talked about performance funding over the last year was put into fundraising efforts? And though that question oversimplifies the issue, it gets to the heart of it — at what point could (should?) we have decided to ditch performance funding, knowing it would be moot with the funding crisis we’ve got now?

Could the UM System have prioritized differently after abandoning performance funding? Focused on more pertinent issues?

After following the model this fall and getting to sit down and talk with Krawitz about the ins-and-outs of the idea — including the grim funding outlook — it just seems to me like she had, and still has, plenty more viable and important things to work on for this university.

So why waste her time on an under-funded, disliked, already twice-failed performance funding idea?

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