The Board of Governors met last week. They approved the compensation increases and budget adjustments I discussed in my last two Clif’s Notes.
I also presented a new tuition and fee model for discussion. Currently, the university charges in-state undergraduate students $228 for seated classes and $299 for online classes. The university has developed a plan to charge the same tuition rate for seated and online classes.
Charging one rate will be fairer and more transparent for students. It will eliminate financial impact on students when the decision is made for a particular class to be online. It also recognizes that the line between “online” and “seated” classes has blurred.
The plan I presented would change the tuition rate for all in-state undergraduate students to $250. Students taking at least one seated class would be charged fees that are consistent with the current fee schedule. Students taking only online courses would be charged a new fee that is substantially lower.
This proposal will have minimal impact on most students. Under the new model, the average in-state undergraduate student would pay $50 less than under the current tuition and fee model.
The proposal is also revenue neutral on tuition, meaning it would net the university the same tuition revenue as the current model. The new online student fee generates some additional revenue, but it recaptures only about half of the fee revenue that has been lost over the past two years as students gradually migrated to online classes.
The proposal would also preserve MSU’s cost advantage by continuing to price tuition and fees below MSU’s major competitors.
The board discussed and provided feedback on this proposed model. Those discussions will continue in the coming months. The board will vote on tuition and fees for the 2021-22 academic year in the spring.
The board discussed and approved the Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) Plan. The plan includes four measurable goals in the following categories:
- Outreach and recruitment.
- Retention and student success.
- Successful graduation and completion.
- Financial preparedness.
The plan also includes strategies to attain each goal. The plan establishes a committee structure that will implement the plan throughout the coming months and years.
The board and our leadership team are pleased with the final SEM Plan and proud of the work we have done to chart our pathway forward on enrollment. I want to say a special thanks to the SEM Plan co-chairs Dr. Tammy Jahnke and Dr. Rob Hornberger, the SEM Steering Committee, and others who served on committees and otherwise engaged in the SEM Plan process.
Reviewing the budget
The board reviewed the FY2021 budget.
Due to Gov. Mike Parson’s release of withheld appropriations, cost saving measures that have been implemented and fall enrollment numbers exceeding projections, the Springfield operating fund is $5.5 million ahead of budget and the West Plains operating fund is $300,000 ahead of budget. These totals include more than $4.5 million in university reserves that were allocated when the board originally approved the FY2021 budget in June.
COVID-19 policy updates
I provided the board with an update on the impacts of COVID-19 on our campus.
As part of that update, I advised the board that we have eliminated the COVID-19 Work and Compensation Policy and updated five other temporary policies:
- COVID-19 Masking Policy.
- COVID-19 Testing Policy.
- COVID-19 Emergency Paid Leave Policy.
- Events Policy.
- Return-to-Campus and Travel Policy.
Finally, the board approved the executive committee, and Gov. Counts announced board committee appointments for 2021:
- Govs. Counts, Silvey, Frazier and Waters will serve on the Executive Committee.
- Gov. Waters will chair the Finance and Facilities Committee.
- Gov. Parman will chair the Programs and Planning Committee.
- Gov. Silvey will chair the Risk Management and Audit Committee.
- Gov. Frazier will serve as the board representative to the MSU Foundation.
The end of the calendar year also marks the end of outgoing board member’s terms. The board recognized Govs. Gore, Keltner and Tergin for their service on the Board of Governors. I have enjoyed working with each of them, and they will be greatly missed when their replacements are appointed and confirmed.
Save the date
Before we leave for winter break I wanted to let you know about an upcoming event. At 3 p.m. Jan. 15 we will host a virtual town hall meeting to discuss our COVID-19 response, plans for the spring semester and other topics. We will distribute the Zoom link and other details in January.
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!