‘High quality’ highest priority

Alexandra Nicolas

University officials have been “trimming the fat.”

In a time of tight budgets, Missouri Southern administration have spent the past year looking for where the school can afford to shave off enough dollars to make the University financially stable.

Decisions have included across-the-board budget cuts, turning down the heat, moratoriums on travel and hiring, the elimination of the men’s soccer team and the Child Development Center, and more cuts could be on the way.

University President Bruce Speck believes the most important thing is to keep high standards and preserve the school’s mission of educating students and keeping as many jobs as possible.

“Anyone who argues in this kind of environment that there’s not going to be some change in quality is just not being realistic,” Speck said. “What we’re trying to do is to make sure that quality stays as high as possible.”

The closing of the CDC will save the University approximately $80,000, at the cost of the school no longer being able to provide childcare for faculty and students and the elimination of practical experience for education majors.

“Sure, you’re going to have people who are going to say ‘I now have problem in terms of my children,’?” Speck said. “Yes, I understand that, but that doesn’t cut into our core education mission.”

Dr. Glenn Coltharp, dean of the school of education, said it boils down to revenues versus expenses but that the hardest part of trimming budgets is the impact it has on people.

“I have worked in schools for 25 years before I came to Southern, a kindergarten teacher, a principal, an assistant superintendent and a superintendent and any time these decisions are made they hurt a great deal, because you also know the impact it has on a lot of people,” he said. “It’s not a good time.”

Currently no one could speak as to what the space in Taylor Education will be used for.

Sallie Beard, director of athletics agrees that the most difficult parts of trimming budgets is analyzing where cuts can be absorbed and who will bear the brunt of the blow.

“A lot of time you try not to treat everybody the same, because the cooking cutter approach doesn’t work,” she said. “The hardest part is the realization that it’s going to affect, very directly, the students or the staff, it’s knowing the impact it’s going to have on people, we’re obviously an institution that relies on people.”

Future cost saving measures could include asking faculty to pay a part of their insurance premiums as the cost of insurance goes up. “The largest pot of money is salaries and benefits,” Speck said.

While cuts will save money in coming years, the affects of the trimming can be felt all over campus now.

“A university is like a battleship and not a speedboat,” Speck said, “To turn it you have to start far out, you have to start cranking at the wheel.”