You Paid For It – Univ. of Missouri spends $473K on PR firms while slashing its budget

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri is spending big bucks on public relations despite having to slash $100 million from the budget in the face of plunging enrollment.

Almost 500 university employees were laid off as part of those cuts. Some nearly finished dormitories were closed because of declining attendance.

But school officials still found $473,000 to hire a PR firm to polish its image back in 2016. The deal with that company will run thru 2018.

In the meantime, they've signed on with another PR firm. This deal is worth $1.2 million over three years, for a grand total of more than $1.7 million spent to mend the school’s image.

Maurice Graham, head of the University of Missouri’s Board of Curators, said it's critical for the university to turn around the enrollment decline. He believes that PR will help improve the school’s image after the uproar at the school in the fall of 2015.

Others aren't so sure about this deal.

You Paid For It investigator Elliott Davis spoke with Jenna Robinson, head of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, a nonprofit think tank on higher education. She said a lot of schools are turning to professional PR firms to improve their image instead of relying on people right on their own campus.

Robinson said the school would be better off using the money for more financial aid to attract more students.