In this issue of Clif’s Notes, I provide information about free wireless on campus and review the June Board of Governors meeting, which includes the approval of the operating budget for fiscal year 2015 and outlines how we will handle the governor’s withholding.
Free wireless on campus
I wanted to make sure you know that the open-access wireless service for all areas within both the Plaster Student Union and Meyer Library was brought online May 24. Here is the information you will need to access this service:
- Wireless network name: MSU Open (This name will appear when you search for available networks with your device.)
- Password: Welcome2MSU (This password should not change but possibly once a year.)
The open-access wireless provides full access to the Internet but limited access to Missouri State resources since we want to encourage students, faculty and staff to use their BearPass Logins to access their sensitive information.
There are currently no bandwidth limits on this network. Computer services will re-evaluate as the summer semester continues to see if limits are necessary prior to the fall semester. In the meantime, please let computer services know if you have questions.
We are pleased to offer this service, and I want to thank Jeff Morrissey and the computer services staff for making this a reality.
Board of Governors meeting
Again this year, the Board of Governors had its June meeting Friday in Kansas City. We combined that meeting with a donor event Thursday night and the Missouri State Night at Kauffman Stadium Friday night for alumni and friends. We appreciate Governor Steve Bough assisting with the arrangements in Kansas City.
The Board took several actions at the meeting that I want to summarize for you.
Operating budget for fiscal year 2015
The Board approved the operating budget for fiscal year 2015 which totals about $263 million, up approximately $10 million from the current year. The budget increase will be funded in part by three items:
- A 5.2 percent increase in state appropriations based on Missouri State meeting all five of its performance measures
- Continued enrollment growth, which continues to be a vital part of increasing revenue
- Modest increases in non-resident and graduate tuition and fees
Undergraduate tuition remains steady
Tuition for Missouri undergraduate students will remain at the 2013-14 rate of $204 per credit hour. The University’s commitment to hold Missouri undergraduate tuition the same from 2013-14 to 2014-15 is based upon the governor’s recommended budget and the approved General Assembly’s budget.
Investing in the compensation package
As I have outlined in previous issues, the majority of the increase in the budget will be dedicated to significant investment in the compensation package to faculty and staff for fiscal year 2015. The Board also approved a 1.5 percent pay increase for full time faculty and staff and various compensation initiatives. This continues the Board’s commitment to improve compensation for faculty and staff.
Plan to deal with withholdings
On Tuesday, Governor Jay Nixon announced that he would sign the operating budget bill but withhold the entire 5 percent increase for higher education. For Missouri State, that means the 5.2 percent, which amounts to about $4 million.
We are very disappointed about the withholdings — especially the extent of the withholdings and the timing on the eve of the new fiscal year. We prepared the fiscal year 2015 operating budget in good faith based on the increase which was recommended by the governor and approved by the Missouri General Assembly. We must now potentially find ways to reduce the budget and options available to us are neither good nor easy.
We expect to know more about the fiscal year 2015 budget following the veto session in mid-September. In the meantime, we will continue to talk with our elected officials about the tax cut bills and the timing of their implementation given the fact that state revenues are at least flat, if not declining.
I wanted you to know that we have made these initial decisions:
- We will proceed as planned with all compensation increases (1.5 percent across-the-board increase, Full Professor Incentive, staff salary initiative, 1.5 percent increase for graduate assistants, etc.) — this is appropriate given that improving compensation for faculty and staff continues to be the No. 1 priority for the Board of Governors and this administration.
- Maintaining the compensation means we may have to accept other difficult decisions to balance the budget — for example, we will delay the 1.5% restoration of operating budgets for cost centers and evaluate its viability after the veto session.
We will continue to review and consider options for reducing the budget deficit as we wait for the results from the veto session and fall enrollment numbers. This action again highlights the importance of enrollment growth.
Faculty Handbook revisions
The Board approved the revisions recommended by the Faculty Handbook Committee. You may review those revisions.
I want to thank and congratulate the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee, chaired by Dr. Rich Biagioni, for its good work on this initiative.
For this month’s Board discussion, we provided updates on the three discussion topics for 2013-14:
- First generation students, as well as transfer students
- Higher Learning Commission and other accreditations
The Board was pleased with the progress we are making in each of these areas.
At the Kansas City meeting, we welcomed our new student Board member, Caleb Doyle. Caleb is a junior from Barnhart, Missouri, majoring in secondary education. He replaces Paige Jenkins who represented the students well during her time on the Board.
The next time the Board meets it will be July 31 for the annual summer retreat. The emphasis of the retreat is to discuss and finalize the goals for 2014-15.
With classes, various academies and camps, along with the construction, the campus is buzzing this summer. I trust that you will not only be productive in your various activities but also take some time to refresh and rejuvenate. It won’t be long before we are preparing to welcome students back for the fall semester.
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State University.