President lists options

President lists options

President lists options

Brennan Stebbins

Furloughs are on the table – that’s the word from University President Bruce Speck Wednesday in Jefferson City.

Testifying before the House Appropriations – Education committee, Speck said salaries should remain steady, but several options, including furloughs, are possibilities if state appropriations dip.

“On the board are things like furloughing, even across-the-board reduction in salaries and having employees contribute to their healthcare premium,” Speck said.

“Those are measures we are waiting on and we really haven’t enacted those because we didn’t know what would happen,” he added. “If it’s (state appropriations) are flat we certainly won’t give increases, but those other measures, we probably won’t have to enact those.”

In an e-mail to faculty last week, Speck called the idea of furloughs “dreadful.”

“If the Governor’s proposal is approved, and if the state doesn’t require a withholding this budget year, we now think that we can take off the table the across-the-board pay cuts,” Speck said in the message. “We also hope not to enact that dreadful furlough idea that has been going around higher education.”

Speaking with The Carthage Press last week, Speck again raised the issue, and said furloughs are more enticing than permanent pay cuts.

“A furlough is saying this year and this year only, we’re going to not pay you so much,” he was quoted as saying. “For this week, everybody’s off. For spring break, when the faculty’s off, everybody’s off and you’re not going to get paid for this week.

“It’s a reduction in pay, but it’s not a permanent reduction in pay, that’s why furloughs have taken on a kind of added glamour, if that’s the right word or desirability because it’s not a permanent cut and there are times when you can do that and then people are still employed.”

Committee pleased with enrollment increase

Though the hearing was largely a meet-and-greet between institution leaders and members of the committee, Speck still fielded a number of questions and talked about Missouri Southern’s status during his 12-minute testimony.

He updated the committee on Southern’s health sciences building, scheduled to be completed in a year, and the distance dental hygiene program which is in conjunction with the University of Missouri – Rolla and Southeast Missouri State University. Speck said he supports the Caring for Missourians Initiative which would provide more than $1 million in additional appropriations for Southern to increase health care graduates, and impressed committee members with news of Southern’s 5 percent enrollment increase.

“We’re very glad about that,” Speck said. “We think it’s because we’ve done some things structurally we didn’t do in the past, and it’s been a real team effort by people at Missouri Southern to make sure we’re being very cognizant of our need to make sure we have students coming to Southern.

“We have about 5,300 students at Missouri Southern,” he added. “We really should grow. Our intention is to grow. At one time we had about 6,000; we should at least be there and over time I hope we can have more students and educate more people so that we will be a part of the workforce development in our area.”

Rep. Maynard Wallace (R-Thornfield) asked Speck about the ratio of Missouri students attending Kansas schools and Kansas students coming here for education.

“You’re sitting right on the border of Indian territory and the state of Kansas; you draw students from those states and they draw students from us, do you have any idea of the ratio?” Wallace asked.

Speck said right now there are probably more students leaving Missouri than entering, attributing it largely to Pittsburg State University.

“Part of that is because Pitt State is a competitor of ours, very close to us and they advertise,” he said. “You can come out of Tulsa, you can go everywhere and you’ll see in-state tuition advertised so if you go there you can get instate tuition. I think that’s a great draw for Pitt State so they probably are edging us in that regard.”

Speck also said Southern is putting forth a major effort to boost enrollment, and that the economy could help boost enrollment.

“We have, as you know, lost enrollment the last two years,” he said. “We’re looking at fall enrollment. Of course admissions is sort of like shooting craps in some ways, we’re doing everything we possibly can. We think the economy will help us. Generally when you have a time like this it does help our education, people come back and the 5 percent increase we had this semester was largely part-time so that tells us there are people coming back who might have jobs and can’t completely come back but want more training.”

Relationship with Crowder College

One representative asked Speck about the University’s involvement with Crowder College, specifically about the number of Crowder students transferring to Southern. Speck said the schools are working hand-in-hand to increase that number.

“We are even putting a person down in Crowder so that person can help direct students and give them information about Southern,” he said. “That’s a good relationship and we consider Crowder a very significant partner in that area and we want to work with Crowder as much as possible.”

When asked about the loss of the men’s soccer program, Speck said travel was too expensive.

“It was not part of the MIAA,” Speck said. “As you probably know, soccer is one of those programs that, because there aren’t many soccer programs around, we were traveling all the way down to New Mexico and Colorado. We talked to the AD about that and we asked all programs to look at what they’re doing and make some determination so that’s why we did that.”

Rep. Theodore Hoskins (D-Berkeley) asked about a possible difference in pay for men and women on campus.

“If I look at your pay scale, women and men, would the salaries be comparable?” Hoskins asked Speck. “If I look in detail, because it appears you’re paying the men more than you’re paying the women.”

Speck said when hiring a professor, Southern used CUPA data to determine a salary, and that gender plays no part.

“It’s generally based on your field,” he said. “For instance, if we’re hiring somebody to teach management, that person is going to earn more money than somebody coming to teach, say, English.”

Hoskins again asked if comparable salaries would exist between the sexes if he took a closer look, to which Speck responded, “I would hope so because we use CUPA data.”

Speck will return to the Capitol next week when representatives from higher education institutions testify about budgets and the impact if cuts went into effect.