SPECK: ‘NOTHING IS SACRED’

Alexandra Nicolas

In a time of economic strain for Missouri Southern, President Bruce Speck guarantees “pain and suffering” on the road ahead.

A moratorium, or ban, on hiring and travel was issued Monday leaving students and faculty wondering about the future of athletics travel, study abroad and conventions.

Speck said no one will remain unaffected.

“I want to make it clear here; nothing is sacred on campus,” he said. “It’s not as though there’s an area where we look at it and say ‘we can’t touch that.’?”

“That is not the way we’re going to operate, we’ve got to look at everything and say ‘How do we tighten up?’ and there will be pain and suffering everywhere, that’s just the nature of the climate we’re in.”

Since the moratorium came into affect, Dr. Terri Agee, senior vice president, has begun canceling travel plans.

“I’ve already notified several individuals who were planning on going to seminars in their field that they won’t be allowed,” she said.

TEAM TRAVEL

While certain athletic travel is required by the MIAA, Agee plans to meet with Athletics Director Sallie Beard to discuss the future of other travel plans.

“We have to have our teams show up to play,” Agee said. “We have obligations under the MIAA. But I want to make sure everything is absolutely necessary.”

Beard believes the moratorium will have minimal to no effect on team travel.

“What I was told was that the moratorium is essentially targeting travel to professional seminars, or clinics or conventions,” she said.

INTERNATIONAL

With multiple programs, including foreign languages and the Honors Program, requiring international travel, students have begun to question their tentative travel plans.

While international travel didn’t affect her decision to come to Southern, honors student Lendi Stirewalt, senior vocal performance major, thinks if she knew what she knows now, she might have chosen differently.

“I understand they have to cut,” she said. “Basically my opinion is if they’re going to cut all the international it’s going to effect students.”

Plans will be made in the upcoming weeks as to how to proceed with international travel, both required and optional. However, travel funded by endowment, such as the McCaleb Initiative for Peace should remain unaffected.

“The idea that honors students are required to do that (travel) does not mean that in this time of huge financial difficulty, that we are obligated to honor that,” Speck said. “What we may do, is we may relax that requirement.”

As of press time the honors department was unable to comment on the issue.

HIRING FREEZE

While travel has been the talk of the moratorium, the instituted hiring freeze could mean currently vacant and advertised positions could go unfilled. However, the University is still looking at hiring for positions deemed “essential for operation.”

While Speck confirmed that layoffs are “not out of the realm of possibility,” he said eliminating employees is one of the last things on his list and would rather not hire, and shuffle current staff to new positions than layoff faculty and staff.

With the current climate, Southern has begun seeing new jobs open as faculty find what they consider to be better options at other institutions.

“If you say “I want to go elsewhere” I respect you for that,” Speck said. “But if you stick around I think you’ll see that we’re going to have a great victory at the end. We’re going to have a celebration, we’re going to be stronger for it, and we’re going to move forward.”

TOUGHER TIME AHEAD

In addition to Southern’s ban on travel and hiring, the Coordinating Board for Higher Education is requesting that institutions prepare plans for taking 15 percent, 20 percent and 25 percent budget cuts. Earlier in the week, Crowder College President Alan Marble said that a 15 percent budget cut they “go back to the drawing board,” Agee says Southern is at the drawing board already but she hopes to reassure students and faculty about the stability of current academic programs.

I can’t imagine us [cutting programs],” she said. “I’d fight it tooth and nail.

“I can’t imagine us ever leaving students midway through a program. Our first priority has to be the students, that will remain our first, and top focus.”

Currently all future plans for travel are being handled on a case-by-case basis, examining the importance of the travel and if they’re financially prudent.

“Harry Truman had it correct; the buck stops here, in this office,” Speck said. “The board ultimately will come to me and say ‘Speck, why are we in this situation and what are we going to do about it?’ “Ultimately, when its all said and done, I have to make those decisions.”