On Tuesday, Jan. 17, Gov. Jay Nixon issued his 2013 budget, which revealed a 12.5 percent cut to every four-year university. Just a few minutes later, Missouri Western administrators lowered their heads as they discovered that an additional $2.9 million would be cut from Missouri Western on top of last year’s appropriation of $21 million.
“At this point just about everything is on the table when you are taking about cuts of that magnitude,” President Dr. Robert Vartabedian said. “In addition to that, we have additional costs through unfunded mandatory increases in utility costs, increases in insurance cost, possible loss of programs in terms of some of our two year programs we no longer have. It’s even much more then [2.9 million]. It’s probably more in the $4 million range that we will need to come up with.”
To cover this deficit, cuts will have to be made in almost every academic area. Faculty size has not increased, as 20 out of 28 vacant positions have been frozen to generate revenue. The university will be requiring more adjunct and part-time faculty to fill those vacant holes in return. People will have to take on extra responsibility, Vartabedian said.
A cut in personnel is just a start. Another thing the university is considering is regulating student scholarships.
“We’re analyzing the possibility of maybe asking or requiring students who are on scholarship to take a minimum number of hours,” Vartabedian said. “So that at least we’ll generate revenue from their a credit hour production and tuition.”
Though another tuition increase might be the most reasonable measure of recovering funds, the university is restricted from increasing tuition to what the consumer price index is, which is slightly above 3 percent. Vartabedian proclaims this trade-off as very uneven, however.
“We are hopeful that our general assembly, our legislative folks in Jefferson City, will strongly consider taking that 12.5 percent down significantly,” Vartabedian said. “We have been working with our lobbyists and with our legislative delegation on that. We are hopeful that that will be the case.”
However, according to Matthew Smith, associate policy analyst at education commission of the states, legislation will more than likely not decrease the percent.
“The cut will happen in the budget,” Smith said. “In terms of filling the deficit, the state is not going to do anything about that. So, usually it is going to require a response by the university.”
Even if the initial percent does hopefully decrease, Missouri will probably still receive budget cuts of this magnitude or greater in the next few years.
“Missouri is like a lot of other states. These budget cuts probably will continue until 2014 or later when revenue starts to pick up in the states,” Smith said. “What we will probably see, in Missouri in particular, is more funding cuts. The percentage amount is probably being held across the state. Everybody is affected, though not equally, necessarily.”
SGA President Alison Norris feels that through all the possibilities, the students will be the most affected by this new cut percentage.
“The cuts will definitely affect the campus, especially the students through scholarships and programs,” Norris said. “I wasn’t really surprised. I am disappointed in the legislative staff, but it means we are going to have to keep trying to plead our case at Missouri Western.”
SGA plans to travel to Jefferson City this week for an event called “Great Northwest Day,” where they will speak with the Missouri legislative staff in hope to find some sort of financial agreement for the university.