The Board of Governors Executive Committee met last week.
David Hall and I provided an update on the status of COVID-19 on campus and in our community. We are in a much better position this semester than we were last fall and last spring in terms of case counts, positivity rate and all other relevant metrics.
The board applauded all of our efforts to advocate for vaccination and adhere to the masking policy.
Helping our students
The board approved our plan to distribute federal stimulus funds to our students.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) allocated $20.8 million to the Springfield campus and $1.8 million to the West Plains campus for distribution to our students. These funds are separate from the funds allocated to the university to offset lost revenue and certain COVID-related expenditures.
We distributed a small portion of the funds to students during the summer. The board approved a plan to distribute almost all of the remaining funds.
- Currently enrolled domestic students will receive at least $1,000.
- Pell-eligible students will receive additional funds.
- International students may also apply to receive funds.
We plan to disperse these funds over the next six weeks.
Movement on the underpass project
The Executive Committee also hired Nabholz Construction Corporation, a construction management at risk firm, to perform professional management services for the Grand Street Underpass project.
The board set a $3.8 million budget for the project. The board can expand that budget to include a second phase if additional funding comes available through Congressionally directed spending.
We continue to work with Rep. Billy Long to advocate for this funding.
Advocating for MSU
The Missouri Coordinating Board of Higher Education (CBHE) also met last week.
The CBHE voted to advance our proposal to offer a Doctor of Occupational Therapy program to Phase II of the comprehensive review process. I want to give a special thanks to Drs. Frank Einhellig, Julie Masterson, Mark Smith, Letitia White-Minnis, Sapna Chakraborty and everyone else who have worked tirelessly on this proposal.
The CBHE approved a rule implementing changes to the Higher Education Student Funding Act (HESFA). Public universities will no longer be limited by law to inflation on tuition increases. The revised rule goes into effect and limits a university’s ability to charge course fees in certain situations. Based on the language in the rule and our conversations with staff at MDHEWD, we do not believe the new rule will impact our tuition and fee model.
The CBHE also approved budget recommendations that will be advanced to Gov. Mike Parson.
These recommendations include:
- An inflationary increase for public university operating appropriations.
- A deferred maintenance allocation for each university (calculated at 3% of each university’s core operating appropriation).
- A $9 million appropriation increase for the Access Missouri financial assistance program and an $18 million appropriation increase for the A+ dual credit scholarship program.
- Renewal of the Fast Track enabling legislation and removal of the clawback/forgivable loan provisions in the program.
We support these recommendations and will work with Gov. Parson’s office to advocate that they be included in his budget recommendations and policy priorities when legislative session begins in January.
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!