Board fights off financial losses during meeting

T.J. Gerlach

As the post offices were closing and this year’s tax season came to an end, the Missouri Southern Board of Governors began its April 15 meeting.

A discussion concerning Southern’s employee health care provider dominated 45 minutes of the 75-minute meeting.

Dwight Douglas, Board member, said the Board should try to help fight some of Southern’s recent financial losses by receiving bids from different health care providers. He said not receiving bids would not be responsible handling of public funds.

“I’ve done city work,” Douglas said. “[I have] seen cities do this and save lots of money.”

Dr. Teri Agee, vice president for business affairs, said the University belongs to a health care consortium consisting of five other institutions in Missouri. The consortium receives bids as a group for health care, dental, vision, long-term care and long-term disability coverage.

The consortium consists of Southeast Missouri State University, Truman State University, Central Missouri State University, Missouri Western State College and Harris-Stowe State College.

Douglas said the other institutions in the consortium are not in the Joplin market so health care costs covering only the Joplin market may be lower than in other markets.

University President Julio León said bidding as a consortium benefits each member because if one institution has a “bad year” then its health care costs cannot be highly affected if it is part of the consortium.

Bidding as a consortium means there will be more lives insured under the health care plans, which reduces costs, León said.

“Every public entity out there has been bidding health care,” Douglas said. “I just don’t think we’re doing that.”

Agee said the deadline to pull out of the consortium was March 31, but since all members were looking into private bids, the deadline was pushed back to April 30.

The Board decided to it will look into the issue next year.

León said the Missouri House has passed its version of next year’s budget and sent it to the Senate.

León said the House recommended about $20.3 million, and the Senate may add another $486,000 to that amount.

“So far things are looking very good as far as appropriations,” he said.

The April 15 meeting will be Glenn Wilson’s last, pending the approval of new Board member David Ansley. Wilson, who has been a member of the Board since 1978, has served with all three of Southern’s presidents.

Wilson said he has seen many things change at Southern, from the campus itself to even the name change.

“It’s been a pleasure,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Other items the Board discussed included:

*Dr. Betsy Griffin, interim vice president for academic affairs, said Southern and SMSU are working on a “near-final draft” of a proposal for a master of arts in teaching, for those with bachelor of arts degrees in specific fields who wish to teach in that field.

*Board members will attend a retreat in July with the administration to discuss a strategic plan for Southern for the next three years.

The meeting adjourned when Dr. Charles McGinty, Board president, asked Wilson if he would like to make the motion for adjournment since it would be his last meeting.