|JOPLIN - The state of the economy dominates nearly every discussion in every corner of American society at this time, and Missouri Southern State University is no different.
Missouri's new governor, Jay Nixon, Wednesday announced that an agreement was reached with Missouri's public four-year colleges and universities. In fiscal year 2010, the institutions will receive the same state appropriation they received in fiscal year 2009, according to the agreement that is subject to legislative review. In return, the institutions have pledged not to raise tuition or academic fees during the 2009-2010 school year.
MSSU's president Bruce Speck today announced several cost-cutting measures the university is implementing. "We are in the process of reviewing responses we have solicited from campus leadership," Speck stated. "Without increased revenue from a tuition increase, we will have to find a way to meet the continuing increases in costs for providing a quality education. In addition, Southern is still dealing with deficit spending, so the governor's announcement means that the cuts we will continue to make will not be as deep as we had anticipated. That doesn't mean, of course, that the cuts will not be significant, but it does mean that students will not be asked to pay more for their education. The focus of internal reallocation of budgets will have a significant impact on some of our programs and all of our faculty and staff."
Cuts the university has already made include a travel moratorium and a reduction in travel expenses for the basketball teams, among others.
"We have decreased travel costs for our basketball teams by having both the women's and men's teams travel in one chartered bus as opposed to two buses they previously used," the president stated. " [Southern Athletics Director] Sallie Beard responded to our call to analyze our business operations at all levels and, in response to that call, recommended that we use one bus for our basketball teams."
Other cost-cutting measures include:
- Phasing out the child development center
- Cutting the men's soccer program
- Altering compensation for summer and Internet classes
- Instituting a hiring freeze
- Implementing a travel moratorium
- Establishing a moratorium on overtime compensation
The child development center, which currently provides services to about 30 children, will close in May. "The center is heavily subsidized by the university each year," stated Dr. Glenn Coltharp, dean of the school of education, under which the center is managed. Families who have children in the center, mostly MSSU faculty, staff and students, have been notified to provide ample time to find other services.
"We have been very pleased to use that service as a field experience for our teacher education candidates and those students now will move to Head Start and other similar programs for their field experiences," Coltharp explained.
Men's soccer is the only non-conference sport for Missouri Southern, and therefore is forced to schedule matches in places such as New Mexico, Colorado and Texas. After dropping men's soccer the university will offer 15 varsity teams.
Beard stated,"Even though I recommended that we discontinue men's soccer after a careful analysis of our athletic programs, it is with great regret that we are announcing that men's soccer is being cut as a sport at Missouri Southern. We are in unprecedented economic times and we understand that decisions have to be made for the economic health of the department as well as the university. We also understand the frustration that our current team members and soccer alumni will feel. We want them to know that we are grateful for the time, effort, and commitment made by not only the current players and coaches, but also by the soccer players and coaches who have worn the green and gold in the past. We are also thankful for the dedication and work ethic shown by head coach Kiley Cirillo who has been a valued part of the athletics department and who has also been a great teacher and role model for his players."
Speck emphasized that the university will honor all scholarships the student-athletes on the men's soccer team are receiving until they graduate. Overall, the child development center and soccer cuts will result in the loss of four full-time and one part-time staff positions.
As announced at the last board of governor's meeting, the rate of pay for summer classes will be more closely associated with enrollment. In addition to the cost-cutting measures already enacted, the university is reviewing additional methods of reducing expenses, including temporarily adjusting faculty teaching load requirements; adding an employee contribution to health insurance; and an across-the-board pay reduction.