I have good news to report from Jefferson City. We have invested significant time and effort this year advocating that the legislature reduce the cut to our core appropriation.
Good news from the legislature
Last Wednesday I made another trip to Jefferson City to testify before the House Higher Education Committee. My testimony focused on Missouri State’s quality, affordability and efficiency. I informed the committee of the decisions we have made this year to balance Missouri State’s budget, and I stated that additional cuts would result in Missouri State University — and the entire Missouri higher education community — taking steps backward in terms of quality and affordability. I have delivered this same message to many of our legislators and other elected leaders over the past several months.
Later in the week, the General Assembly’s budget conference committee announced, and the House and Senate passed, the legislature’s final version of the state budget.
The final budget will include a 6.58 percent core cut for Missouri State as opposed to the 9 percent cut proposed by Governor Greitens. If the Governor approves the budget, and there are no withholds during the fiscal year, Missouri State will receive $2.1 million more in state appropriations than originally anticipated.
Please join me in thanking Sen. Dan Brown (Senate Appropriations Chair), Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick (House Budget Chair) and the other legislators involved in the budget process for working to restore a portion of our core cut.
An unanticipated $2.1 million
As you know, we developed our fiscal year 2018 budget recommendations on the assumption of a 9 percent cut. Accordingly, this additional $2.1 million in anticipated revenue is currently unallocated.
I have already informed the Executive Budget Committee that we will meet in the fall to evaluate the actual revenues received from the state and develop recommendations for a mid-year compensation increase.
West Plains flooding update
I want to take a moment to update you on the status of our West Plains campus.
On April 29, West Plains received over nine inches of rain in a six-hour period. The result was flooding throughout Howell County and surrounding areas. It was a historic weather event that destroyed homes and businesses, caused several deaths and threatened the safety of countless others.
Roads, bridges and other infrastructure throughout the West Plains community have been damaged, making travel difficult for some and impossible for others. Cellular service was disrupted, and the entire community has been without power and other services at times following the storm.
Our West Plains campus sits on high ground, so we suffered only minor property damage. The GOCAT facility suffered some flooding. Moreover, the Grizzly Lofts, which we lease as part of a public-private partnership, were flooded, requiring an emergency evacuation of students residing there. Additionally, our faculty, staff and students in the West Plains area have had to deal with the ramification of their homes and communities being flooded.
I was in contact with Chancellor Bennett during the flooding and its aftermath. We decided to close the campus on May 1 and 2, with only essential personnel reporting. As we evaluated the situation we then canceled classes for the rest of the week, but reopened offices on May 3. This allowed as many faculty, staff and students as possible to avoid the travel difficulties and attend to their personal needs.
The Springfield campus provided dispatch services during the flooding (which proved critical given the cellular outage and communications problems resulting from the flooding) and has offered other support to ensure that the West Plains campus operates as smoothly as possible in the coming weeks and months.
West Plains campus open again
I am pleased to report that the West Plains campus opened for business yesterday. I traveled there yesterday to ensure that things ran according to plan and to recognize several members of our Missouri State community who exhibited extraordinary commitment during the flooding. Those individuals include:
- Jared Cates, director of student life
- Bruce Cavitt, academic adviser
- Anyta Cavitt, teacher education adviser
- Stanley Mugeki, director of student housing
- Angie Totty, dean of student services
Please join me in congratulating and thanking these individuals for their exemplary work. Please also join me in remaining mindful of the obstacles that our West Plains campus has surmounted, and the obstacles they will continue to encounter, as we close out the semester.
How can I help?
I have been asked by many of our faculty and staff what they can do to help our students in West Plains. The Missouri State Foundation has an Emergency Scholarship Fund. This fund provides assistance to students who face an unforeseen crisis that makes them unable to meet their financial obligations. The Foundation has agreed to use this fund to solicit contributions and provide assistance for our students in West Plains who have been impacted by the flooding.
The Foundation will begin an email and crowdfunding campaign to solicit contributions to the fund this week. In the meantime, if you would like to contribute to the fund, you may either contact the Missouri State Foundation at 417-836-4143 or contribute online.
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!