University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton and Provost Brian Foster recently announced changes that will focus MU Extension efforts on core missions, especially economic development and job growth, thus reducing its budget by nearly 20%.
The changes include the elimination of MU Extension's role as managing partner in the statewide TeleCenter Network of interactive audio and video sites. MU Extension's one-year notice of withdrawal from the partnership was effective Nov. 8. The network has provided educational access via technology to rural areas of the state since 1993.
"Much has changed in the past 15-plus years," said Michael Ouart, vice-provost and director of MU Extension. "Although interactive television is still an effective tool in the delivery of education, the Internet has become the predominant vehicle for delivery of and access to education at a distance and is more flexible and convenient for students. While we regret that this budget reduction will result in the elimination of 19 TeleCenter positions, MU Extension will invest in other technologies to be more accessible and responsive to the needs of Extension learners throughout Missouri."
TeleCenters are located in Mexico, Salem, Jefferson City, Nevada, Kirksville, Poplar Bluff, Portageville, Reeds Spring and Mineral Area. More than 30 school districts, businesses, cities, educational institutions and other entities have served as partners with MU Extension in supporting the TeleCenters.
MU Extension administration will meet with the partners in the next few weeks to determine how the TeleCenters' assets will be dispersed and how MU will conclude its partnerships.
Source: MU Extension