In this issue of Clif’s Notes, I review our planned use of excess revenue from enrollment growth, the proposed increase in spouse/family health insurance, the Stomp Out Hunger community engagement project and the B.E.A.R. fee student initiative.
Thanks to a very strong enrollment, we anticipate having an additional $1 million in unbudgeted revenue from tuition and fees for this fiscal year. That is very good news and a good reminder of the impact our enrollment has on our budget. I again want to thank everyone who contributed to the record enrollment.
At the Executive Budget Committee meeting Oct. 2, there was unanimous agreement to immediately commit $600,000 to the provost’s office, so it could be allocated to hire faculty for the 2014-15 year. The purpose for this decision was so that the advertising can begin soon and the search process can be both thoughtful and timely in order to attract the best possible candidates.
Consistent with our stated policy, priority will be given to faculty lines in the colleges where enrollment has increased the most. Provost Frank Einhellig will work on a process and the details with the deans, the Academic Affairs Budget Committee and the college budget committees.
I anticipate that the Executive Budget Committee will meet again in early 2014 to make a decision about how to allocate the remaining unbudgeted revenue to other University priorities. That will allow us to ensure the spring enrollment is strong.
I want you to know that it has become necessary for us to recommend an increase in the insurance coverage for spouses/families. We will recommend a $30 per month increase beginning Jan. 1, 2014 (to be deducted from the December pay check). The Board of Governors will hear and act on that recommendation at its Oct. 18 meeting.
I wanted to alert you to this before it goes before the Board and also give you the reasons for the recommendation.
Reasons for recommendation
As you know, the University has a self-funded employee medical insurance plan, which means that employee contributions are the primary source of paying claims. The costs of that plan continue to increase as health care costs and claims increase. Paid claims show that spousal/family claims have exceeded contributions of employees by an average of approximately $1.3 million per year for the past three calendar years. As a result, the University has had to fund the difference.
Further, the data shows that the University is subsidizing the cost of the spousal/family coverage by about $135 per month per employee. This fact will be more accurately presented when the employer contribution is reflected.
Finally, the Affordable Care Act requires additional fees, including a $63 fee per year per covered life. For Missouri State, this represents an increase of about $200,000 annually.
Simply stated, we do not have a choice. Our consultants have recommended it and the University’s Health Care Plans Review Committee has concurred. We must increase this premium, which will be, amazingly, the first such increase since 2007.
Provided the Board approves the recommendation, there will be much more information about this change coming from the office of human resources. Included will be details on an “open enrollment” period which will occur each year.
Thank you for your understanding.
The Stomp Out Hunger: All-Collegiate Shoe Drive is under way. The initiative benefits Sole Food, a project of Friends Against Hunger. The project is consistent with this year’s public affairs theme of “Global Perspective: Why it Matters.” The drive will continue through Homecoming on Oct. 19, and I hope you will participate. You may deposit your shoes in one of the blue University Staff Ambassador (USA) boxes strategically located throughout campus.
About the drive
Missouri State is joining Drury, OTC, Evangel and SBU in this effort. Sole Food has partnered with the Shoeman Water Project in Fulton to generate funding through the export of the shoes to needy people around the world and in the United States. All proceeds raised by Sole Food are donated back to Friends Against Hunger to help them provide food to hungry people around the world. Proceeds for the Shoeman Water Project go toward providing clean water sources and wells primarily in Haiti, Kenya and South America.
How to get involved
You may bring your unwanted shoes (no holes in the soles, please) to one of the many collection locations on campus to do your part in this campus-wide project. Through this collection, we will also attempt to break a Guinness World Record for the longest string of shoes (using only the shoes with laces). The current record of 12,481 pairs of shoes is held by the Shoeman Water Project, who displayed the shoes at the University of Missouri on May 7, 2011.
So you know, we are encouraging students to bring shoes back from home when they return from fall break, which is Oct. 10-11. I would appreciate any assistance you can provide in reminding students of this.
Stomp Out Hunger is one of our public affairs signature events for this year. More information is available on the public affairs website.
As you know, student leaders have proposed and put on the Homecoming ballot a Bear Experience and Recreation (B.E.A.R.) Fee of $50 per semester (graduated by credit hours taken). The vote will occur during Homecoming.
This idea has surfaced for the past several years, but the student leadership for it has not been strong enough to advance it through the process and onto the ballot. This year’s leaders, especially Matthaus Klute and SGA President David Schneider, deserve credit for their leadership. You can learn more about the fee and the facilities it would support on the SGA website.
About the fee
This is a student initiative, a student vote and a student decision. I have repeatedly told audiences that we will respect and operate within whatever decision students make. And I mean that.
We should, however, respect the students enough to let them make their decision based on facts, not fiction. For example:
Fact: This is a student initiative and student decision. The administration has responded to requests to provide cost estimates, timelines and artist renderings. It is no secret that I personally think this fee would enhance the University and help us improve our stature and our recruiting of students.
Fiction: It is not true that the administration is pressuring students into this.
Fact: These proposed projects will benefit recreation/intramurals and athletics. It will increase and enhance opportunities for both. The campus recreation staff has been involved in all of the discussions of this fee and its use.
Fiction: It is not true that this is a fee only for athletic facilities.
Fact: Unlike athletics fees at some institutions, this is not a fee for general support. If passed, this fee would fund the bond payments for the proposed recreation and athletics facilities for the next 20-25 years, plus provide approximately $200,000 annually for the Student Experience Fund, a fund to be a managed by the office of student engagement.
Fiction: It is just not true that this fee will be used for anything other than the bond payment for these facilities – not scholarships for athletes, not salaries for coaches, not operating expenses for sports.
Fact: If the fee does not pass, we will do what we need to do to comply with Title IX, and we will demolish the east bleachers and relocate the band and students to the west side of Plaster Sports Complex.
Fiction: It is not true that we will complete all components of the proposal if the fee is not passed. If the fee fails, a good number of the component parts will remain dormant until a funding source is identified.
Again, our students deserve the right to vote on this. They deserve for us to respect their vote. And they deserve for us to provide truthful information, so they can make an informed vote. I will appreciate any assistance you can give in communicating the facts on this.
As promised in May, as a follow up to the Marketing Research Project, we are surveying all faculty and staff on the Springfield campus. We wanted to give all faculty and staff, not just a small sample, the opportunity to respond. The deadline for completing the survey is Oct. 18, and I hope you will participate by following the link emailed to you on Oct. 1. So you know, we are looking at the possibility of a separate survey for West Plains faculty and staff sometime in the future.
Next week, we will have thousands of alumni, friends and community members on campus for Homecoming activities. Thousands of our students also will be engaged in events throughout the week. It will be a great celebration of the University — past, present and future.
I invite you to join in. Bring your family and enjoy the festivities throughout the week, but especially on Saturday, Oct. 19. Gail and I will see you there.
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