Budget woes continue to plague Board of Governors as plans for next school year are discussed

On the heels of dozens of programs and clubs that had to be cut or reduced as a result of Gov. Eric Greitens’ budget cuts for the 2018 fiscal year, Missouri Southern stands to be forced to cut even more programs if the governor’s budget proposal for 2019 is passed.

According to Southern President Dr. Alan Marble’s Jan. 30 testimony in front of the Higher Education Committee of the Missouri House of Representatives, the University has been forced to cut programs and clubs such as the Southern Gold Dance Team, Vivid: The Fine Arts Magazine,  and two dental hygiene satellite programs. A number of faculty and administrative positions have also been cut, including a Vice President position, two Deans’ positions, and two Associate Athletic Directors’ positions.

Despite these budget cuts, tuition at Southern has remained the lowest in the state, and student loans are also lower than the national average. As Alan Marble explained in his testimony, “Roughly half of all MSSU students have no debt, due to our very high population of Pell eligible students. Students who borrow have an average debt load of $19,489 compared to the $29,400 national average. While this debt load is comparatively low we are constantly looking for ways to help our students graduate with as little debt as possible.”

Possible budget cuts have also put Southern’s administrators in limbo when it comes to tuition and possible projects to undertake. While tuition for the fall is usually set at the Board of Governor’s meeting in February of the previous spring, the Board has been forced to hold off due to the state budget being so up in the air.

Linda Eis, the Board of Governor’s Treasurer, said at their Feb. 16 meeting that they’ve heard “nothing positive about the budget in Jefferson City.”

Eis, who spoke on behalf of Vice President of Business Affairs Rob Yust, talked of preliminary plans for a new residence hall and a trail stretching from Southern to the Regal Northstar Stadium 14 movie theater that could be affected by the Greitens’ budget proposals. Similarly, Darren Fullerton, the Vice President of Student Affairs, expressed that Southern’s TRIO programs, which include Project Stay, Upward Bound, and the Educational Talent Search, could be negatively affected by such drastic cuts.

Marble summarized Southern’s concerns in his testimony, saying, “Simple, our biggest challenges when looking to the future are all linked to the budget. If you can help us on that front, we will make you proud of your investment.”