Ripple effects trickle down

Revenues have increased, but Missouri Southern is still in deficit and the faculty welfare committee wants to know why.

Dr. Dave Smith, accounting department head, said this summer’s economic summit brought the financial crisis to the forefront and his committee decided to delve into Southern’s financial problems. Smith presented their report before Faculty Senate and asked what questions they may have, especially as Southern moves forward in establishing budgetary committees.

The report, based off publicly available data, points to increasing revenues coming from state appropriations while tuition revenue decreased and soaring expenses caused the current deficit.

“There is a financial crisis we’re in,” Smith said “Other schools have been through this and have gotten out of it and we can do the same thing. I think we do need to make certain we are making the right decisions to really keep the university strong and keep the programs as strong as possible.”

The report uses Missouri Western State University to provide comparison to Southern’s program, because of the similar number of students and employees, their 2004 Banner installation, budget difficulty during the same year and strategic planning process from 2000 to 2002. Missouri Western reversed its financial crisis and was in the black for its most recent fiscal year.

Smith says there must be balance in every change.

“There’s ripple effects throughout,” Smith said. “There’s also non-number things like morale or image in the community where it’s not obvious what will happen.

“As we start looking at program cuts it’s real easy to say, “well, this program we’re losing $100,000 on so if we get rid of this program we’ll save $100,000,” but then you find out there was a whole lot of good that did or there was a lot of kids who came here because of the program suddenly you’ve lost students across the university that was not apparent just looking at it.”

Tuition and fee budgetary increases have stayed flat in the past few years, despite increases in tuition costs per credit hour.

As Southern looks at the possibility of future cuts, Smith says across the board cuts may harm the University more by cutting into money-making divisions.

“It might be a situation for example where we raise cash by spending cash. We could sit here and say instead of cutting this program we want to give them more money because it attracts a lot of students who pay more tuition. It’s very interconnecting, there’s a lot of people involved.

“Dr. Speck has to be the final arbiter because it may very well come down to you’ve got two equally good proposals in front of you and you can only do one. And so someone is going to win and someone is going to lose and someone is going to make that decision.”

Although the final decision in someone else’s hands, faculty hope their day-to-day experience in what works and what does not is taken into account.

“The folks who probably have the best feel overall on the impact are the ones closest to the students, which are the faculty,” Smith said. “So we just want to make certain as we look at things to make improvements we that we’re involved.”