The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 16, 2013

MSSU board approves $76.4 million budget

By Emily Younker

— Spending in the fiscal year 2014 Missouri Southern State University budget is projected to exceed revenues by more than $2 million.

The budget approved Thursday by the Board of Governors projects total expenditures of nearly $76.4 million, compared with the current budget, which lists $73.4 million in spending.

Revenues in the budget approved Thursday are estimated at about $74 million. That means the university will dip into its reserve fund, which is expected to hold between $12.5 million and $13 million at the end of the current fiscal year on June 30, according to Rob Yust, vice president for business affairs.

The budget includes:

• Approximately $22.5 million in state funding, which is a $557,000 increase over appropriations in the current year. Administrators cautioned that appropriations from the state are still subject to approval from Gov. Jay Nixon and could change depending on whether Nixon withholds any amount.

• A 2 percent pay increase for employees, guaranteeing a minimum raise of $600 for full-time employees and $300 for part-time employees.

• A previously approved 2 percent increase in in-state tuition, to $173.20 per credit hour. That tuition rate is given to students who live in the Lion Pride area, which was expanded Thursday to cover all counties in Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, and additional counties in Illinois.

• About $2 million for capital improvement projects. Projects on the docket include the construction of the Lion Icon statue and plaza on the campus oval, which is scheduled to be complete by August, and the construction of a walking trail that will connect the campus to the Northpark Mall retail area, which is being built in conjunction with the city of Joplin.

• Funding for the implementation of enrollment-boosting initiatives from Noel-Levitz, a higher education consulting firm that MSSU hired last year to help determine how to attract, retain and graduate more students.

Yust said the budgets of several departments — the admissions and marketing departments, for example — were ramped up in next year’s budget to plan for some of these initiatives. Consultants from Noel-Levitz have recommended that the university increase admissions staffing, launch a stronger recruiting campaign, focus on students living in the Lion Pride tuition area and increase outreach efforts to prospective transfer students, among other suggestions.

Administrators will develop a strategic enrollment plan this summer to present to the board sometime during the fall semester.

Budget Director Jeff Gibson said the inclusion of funding for Noel-Levitz initiatives was part of what drove the budget into a deficit. He said the level of the reserve fund — close to $13 million — is a healthy level that can handle the deficit next year.

New members

Thursday’s meeting of the Board of Governors was the first for its newest members: Mitch McCumber, the chief executive officer of NewMac Electric from Noel, and Keith Hankins, senior vice president of Pennington Seed Co. from Stockton. They were nominated to their positions by Gov. Jay Nixon and confirmed by the state Senate.