Lean year ahead

Projecting more than $2 million in operating shortfalls this year at Missouri Southern, University President Bruce Speck is calling for financial concessions across campus.

During the Aug. 15 Board of Governors meeting he re-presented the data from his economic summit.

Speck outlined his goal to build reserves and noted the drop in profit margins from 2006 to 2008. Board members discussed depreciation and the change in accounting practices during the preceding years.

“I’m not here to be a critic of the past but when we make decisions about tuition there needs to be some economic modeling,” Speck said.

He explained the ongoing campus construction is funded by capital revenues earmarked for specific projects.

Speck listed several changes as part of the $500,000 budget reduction requested by the Board: sending cards instead of flowers from the president’s office, no faculty dinner this year, cutting an international party and cuts in travel for faculty and study abroad.

Scholarships, he maintained, would not be cut – for now.

At Southern, 25 percent of tuition and fees go into scholarships. He wants to reduce that number to reflect a more national average of 19 percent or less, freeing up funds for other areas. In the next three years, money spent on scholarships from the operating budget will be reduced by $930,000.

“We’re going to try to trim that by $300,000 a year,” Speck said.

The changes will be phased in starting next year.

“It’s a matter of where the money comes from,” Speck said.

He plans to begin replacing current scholarships that come from the operating budget with donations channeled through the Missouri Southern Foundation. More than where the money is, administrators are also looking at how it is spent.

“We’re trying to look at how we administer scholarships,” Speck said. “What it may mean is that you come and you’re offered five scholarships. In the past we’d have said, ‘Take all five.’ Now we’re saying, ‘Wait a minute.’ So we’re not writing you a check.”

Sequencing will also change. Students will be looking at their scholarship options and selecting what best fits their needs, funds will come from outside the University and Speck hopes that will increase the bottom line.