Last week the Executive Budget Committee developed its recommendations that I will present at the Board of Governors’ May meeting. I want to take a moment to summarize those recommendations for you.
Identifying expense reductions
You will recall that due to a state revenue gap, Missouri State is developing a budget for the Springfield campus that includes $7.4 million less in anticipated revenue from the state.
One of our guiding principles in our budgeting process is that we will not rely solely on increased tuition and fees to replace the budget shortfall. Guided by this principle, the Executive Budget Committee previously recommended, and the board decided, to raise tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students only by the amount of inflation. Tuition and fee increases will generate around $3.4 million in additional revenue, leaving $4 million to be identified through expense reductions.
Another of our guiding principles is that protecting the core mission of the university — academic achievement, scholarship and student success—is paramount. Hence, as scenarios were analyzed during the budgeting process, the decision was made that the office of the provost and non-academic units would receive a 4.9 percent reduction, but colleges would receive only a 1.2 percent reduction.
Budget committees across the university have worked throughout the spring to identify $4 million in expense reductions required to develop a balanced budget. In reaching its decision, the Executive Budget Committee discussed the recommendations received from college and university level budget committees as well as feedback received at the budget town hall meeting and other input received from various members of the university community.
I am pleased to report that the Executive Budget Committee has identified the remaining $4 million in expense reductions. These reductions include:
- Eliminating 22 vacant staff positions
- Eliminating 5 vacant faculty positions
- Eliminating 8 occupied staff positions
- Reducing the online course incentive payments from $55 to $40 per student
- Eliminating institutional support for multiple campus research centers
- Reducing event-related expenses by eliminating the Ozarks Celebration Festival, reducing the length of the Public Affairs Conference, eliminating summer commencement and reducing or eliminating several other university events
By focusing on vacant positions, we were able to eliminate staff and faculty positions largely through attrition. However, these cuts will involve eight staff layoffs. We know layoffs dramatically impact lives, and we anticipate that several of these individuals will find other positions within the university.
We also recognize that our compensation at the university lags behind our peers, and the recommended budget will likely place us even further behind with regard to faculty and staff pay. While living expenses continue to rise, the budget recommendations do not include a cost-of-living increase for employees. Moreover, the online course incentive reduction will result in compensation decreases for some of our faculty.
I know I speak for all members of the Executive Budget Committee when I say that we do not take layoffs and compensation concerns lightly. I am saddened by the impact these decisions have on people who have invested their careers with us at Missouri State. However, I am confident that the reductions are necessary to sustain the financial health of the university. I remain committed to continuing to work on increasing compensation as we move forward.
I encourage all faculty and staff to remain positive and to continue to pursue the university’s mission. 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, together, we can continue our growth and emerge from these cuts stronger than ever.
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