Western anticipates $2 million budget increase


Western could receive an additional three percent in appropriations next year from state funding. Western’s funding will increase 5.5 percent as part of a three year program; the additional 3 percent would be a result of a recommendation by the Coordinating Board of Higher Education (CBHE). The 8.5 percent increase would bring state appropriations for fiscal year 2010 to roughly $25.5 million, up from the fiscal year 2009 amount of $23.5 million.

Deputy Director of the CBHE, Paul Wagner, understands the need for more funding.

“We here at the coordinating board are card carrying members of the real world,” Wagner said. “There are a lot of legitimate needs that are brought forward, so we’re going to push as hard as we can for the additional three percent.”

While the extra funds are needed, they are not guaranteed. Director of external relations, Beth Wheeler, is hopeful, but not spending yet.

“I’m guardedly optimistic,” Wheeler said. “This will get us back where we were in 2002.”

Western’s president, Robert Vartabedian, is also hopeful.

“We’re not counting on extra money, but we’re certainly hoping for extra money,” Vartabedian said. “We have a long list of things already in line to do with that extra money.” One of the things on the list would ease the stress of parking on campus.

“I hate to admit this to students, but I think we definitely have a parking problem and a traffic flow problem,” Vartabedian said.

Even with the additional funding, Western is still next to last in Missouri as far as per full-time equivalent (FTE) student funding.

This is called equity. The average for FTE funding is $6,029, Western falls $519 below the average with $5,510. Missouri Southern State University is the only public institution in Missouri to receive less FTE funding than Western, they are $640 below the average with $5,389.

“We would like to get even more money in terms of equity factors,” Vartabedian said.

Vice President of financial planning, Mel Klinkner, is concerned with the equity issue.

“Like everybody else, our costs are rising, so additional funding is needed just to keep pace with where we are today,” Klinkner said. “Additional resources are needed to accommodate the growing number of students on campus.”

Western has record-breaking enrollment this year, making our equity even less. The high enrollment has created over-crowded classrooms, a problem that, according to Wheeler, needs to be addressed.

“We have a really high student-faculty ration and student-staff ratio,” Wheeler said.

Vartabedian is committed to convincing the state that Western requires more funding. “Impressing on legislators that we’ve had four consecutive years of growth, when we’re behind the curve in the first place, that our needs may be more than they’re aware of will certainly be a goal of mine,” Vartabedian said. He would like to get students involved in convincing legislators.

“Part of my goal will be to make them (students) interested to be a player in this process,” Vartebedian said. “If we could mobilize the forces, they can be a very, very effective tool for us. It’s hard for legislators to turn away from that.”

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