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UMSL Chancellor Tom George remains optimistic despite funding decrease

Tom George, Chancellor of UMSL
Alex Heuer

Despite a 10 percent decline in state funding since 2010, the University of Missouri-St. Louis continues to excel in offering top-tier educational opportunities for its students, UMSL Chancellor Tom George says.

He told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh that the university is undergoing a slew of capital constructions including:

  • Making $2 million bond payments on the university’s $32 million science learning building over the next 30 years
  • Construction of a $17 million optometry clinic on the site of a former osteopathic hospital on Natural Bridge Road.
  • A new College of Business Administration building that the university will fund with $10 million of private funds matched with state funding from Gov. Jay Nixon
  • A $36 million Student and Recreation Wellness Center that will include a juice bar, running track, climbing wall and swimming pool
  • $20 million worth of reconstruction on Natural Bridge Road, which is the main thoroughfare for the university
  • A new golf course paid for by a private donor

In the midst of the university’s construction and renovation plans, recent controversy surrounds the proposed demolition of Incarnate Word convent. Although the property’s fate is “on hold at the moment,” said George, the university has discussed plans to turn the site into “open green space.”

“I know there’s some people upset; there’s lots of people that have [also] come to me and said ‘please demolish,’” George explained. “I’m getting [input] from all sides. We’re taking a breath and just looking at it again.”

Tom George, Chancellor of UMSL, discussing university's future
Credit Alex Heuer
Tom George, Chancellor of UMSL, discussing university's future

Along with construction plans, UMSL has been instrumental in assisting with helping Ferguson heal during and after the unrest surrounding the shooting death of Michael Brown. George attests, though, that a number of the university’s programs had been in place long before the unrest, including the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, the Center for Trauma Recovery and Community Psychological Service. The university also hosts many of Ferguson Commission’s meetings.

“Our faculty, staff and students had just stepped up to the plate majorly,” George said of their involvement. “They see it as an opportunity for us to move forward, strengthen ourselves and become even better.”

Aside from construction and renovation plans, George said that the university is working to generate more funding for scholarships and create a more concentrated emphasis on STEAM courses (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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