In January and February, we learned that we should expect to receive less state funding this year than we received last year. This was not because our elected leaders are hostile toward higher education. In fact, they have told me repeatedly that they remain committed to higher education and are proud of the success we have achieved at Missouri State. Instead, funding will be cut because the state’s tax revenues have come in lower than anticipated.
To account for this, we are developing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year on the Springfield campus with $7.4 million less in anticipated revenue from the state.
I am writing to tell you two things.
First, Missouri State is strong. We have grown enrollment in 19 of the past 21 years, topping 26,000 students in fall 2016. We anticipate additional growth again in fall 2017. We have a stable leadership team who has managed budget cuts before. I am confident that we will emerge from these cuts stronger than ever.
Second, I want you to have accurate information about how the University will implement these budget cuts. I also want you to feel free to provide me with input as we develop the University’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
We began this year’s budget process by developing a set of guiding principles. Those principles included:
- Protecting the core mission of the university — academic achievement, scholarship and student success — is paramount.
- All units will share in budget reductions, but the levels of reductions will be strategic and reductions will not be equal in all areas of the university.
- Enrollment growth must continue to be a priority.
- All budget decisions will be made through a transparent process.
One of the University’s guiding principles was that we would not rely solely on increased tuition and fees to replace the budget shortfall. Guided by this principle, the Board has decided to raise tuition and fees for instate undergraduate students only by the amount of inflation. The Board and I are extremely proud of Missouri State’s ability to maintain affordability despite the budget cuts. Tuition and fee increases will generate around $3.4 million in additional revenue, leaving $4 million to be identified through expense reductions.
Budget committees across the university have worked to identify expenses to reduce or eliminate from non-academic areas. At present, expenses slated for reduction or elimination total $2.8 million. These expenses include:
- Eliminating more than 25 staff positions.
- Eliminating institutional support for multiple campus research centers.
- Reducing event-related expenses by eliminating the Ozarks Celebration Festival, reducing the Public Affairs Conference by one day and eliminating summer commencement.
This leaves approximately $1.2 million in expense reductions that have not yet been identified. We recently held a campus town hall meeting at which we discussed several options to pursue in identifying the remaining cuts. Our executive budget committee will be meeting in the coming weeks to review all input received and develop its final recommendations to the Board for the fiscal year 2018 budget.
Our alumni and supporters are important members of the Missouri State community. We value your input. If you have ideas or input that you would like to be considered before we finalize the fiscal year 2018 budget cuts, please feel free to email me at President@MissouriState.edu.