Major protests at the University of Missouri (MU) last fall have caused the school’s credit rating to be downgraded, according to a new announcement from rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P).
S&P lowered the school’s AA+ credit rating from a stable outlook to a negative one. Such a shift means the rating agency believes the school’s financial situation may no longer justify the current rating, and typically precedes a full downgrade. S&P warned that such a downgrade was imminent, unless the school quickly made a “marked improvement in available resources to debt.”
In its report, S&P explicitly pointed toward protests that rocked the school last fall, which forced Tim Wolfe, president of MU’s flagship Columbia campus, out of office. The protests, motivated by the university’s alleged failure to address racial tensions on campus, helped spark similar efforts at schools across the country.
“The negative outlook … incorporates recent senior management changes and campus events that could, in our opinion, affect demand and enrollment in the short term,” the report said.
MU saw a 5 percent drop in applications this year following its on-campus turbulence. This raises the possibility that the school will have a drop in enrollment, reducing its tuition income and potentially straining its finances.
MU spokesman John Fougere argued to the Associated Press that the school’s credit rating will still be “exceptionally strong” if it drops from AA+ to AA.
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