Spring is here, and with it comes the sprint towards commencement. It’s amazing how time flies!
One of my favorite sights is to see our campus teeming with high-school students who are here for special events such as History Day, the Technology Student Association competition, Science Fair, Sophomore Day, and the many other exciting activities that bring potential students to campus. These events offer them an opportunity to see what Missouri Southern is all about – and hopefully provide us a chance to create the next generation of Lions.
It’s also been a great semester for our students. Our Mock Trial team recently closed out their season, taking home an award at each competition. It’s a young team, but Dr. Nicholas Nicoletti says the talent showcased this year gives him high hopes for their future.
I also want to congratulate junior Oliver Smith and sophomore Seth Marshall, who both did fantastic at the recent National Trumpet Competition in Denton, Texas.
And let’s not forget our men’s basketball team, which earned a spot in the 2018 NCAA Division II Basketball Tournament. The spring sports programs are all showing remarkable competitiveness and we know they will accomplish great things this year.
House Bill 3 (HB3) is where higher education funding is annually located in the state budget. It has been whipsawed back and forth in several versions over the weeks. Currently, HB3 would restore $68 million of the proposed $92 million the Governor’s recommended budget removed from higher education, but only if colleges and universities agreed not to raise tuition more than 1%. As you are probably aware, we were the lone holdout opposing “the deal,” simply because we are at the bottom of the funding chart with regard to both tuition and state appropriations per FTE (full-time equivalent student), and a mere 1% increase would do little to correct our unsustainable revenue challenges.
Accordingly, we were able to convince COPHE and House Budget Chair Scott Fitzpatrick to “carve us out” of the deal so we could vote “yes” to give COPHE a unanimous and unified voice.
We have great confidence in the Senate and are hopeful they will restore some or all of the suggested cuts… and leave each institution to decide whether or not to raise tuition by 2.1% as allowed by law (SB389) or to even raise tuition beyond the statutory limit and request a waiver of the penalty (up to 5% of the current year appropriation). Frankly, we need to increase well beyond 2.1% to make up lost ground.
Possible tuition increase
We’re hopeful that legislators will be able to restore some of the proposed cuts, because we certainly do not want to balance the university’s budget on the backs of our students. However, we have to prepare for the eventuality that a significant tuition increase will be needed.
To help offset the cuts and withholdings we have endured over the past several years, and to address the rising costs of MOSERs and other uncontrollable expenses (utilities, software, health insurance, etc.) a larger-than-normal tuition increase will be required. So, we are keeping all options open.
We are in the process of developing several proposals to present to the Board of Governors as the budget picture clears up in Jefferson City, and I expect a firm tuition recommendation will be made at the April Board of Governors meeting.
Last fall, we offered a series of Stakeholder Engagement Sessions and online surveys designed to help us chart a path forward for Missouri Southern.
The results of those sessions (and feedback from the surveys) are fueling our current efforts to revise our mission, vision and values. The Board of Governors met again last month in a special work session to discuss those findings and to continue drafting new mission, vision, and values statements.
Your participation in this process provided invaluable insight and guidance for the board as they attempt to synthesize the information into a new Strategic Plan. They are currently working through the input you provided to ultimately come up with 5 or 6 campus-wide goals that will direct our work over the next few years.
I have included a “draft” copy of their work so far, and would certainly be interested in your thoughts as we move forward with the process. Thank you again for all you do for Missouri Southern and the students we serve.
It’s a Great Day to be a Lion!