Board of Governors agrees to open reserves for one-time expenditures

By Matthew Hunt

March 1, 2013

Missouri Western may soon be making up to $1 million in maintenance and equipment upgrades, pending an upcoming Board of Governors vote to loosen the purse strings on a reserves budget that has grown significantly in recent years. With input from faculty, staff and administrators, President Robert Vartabedian has compiled a list of potential upgrades and maintenance that he will be sharing with the board. The board has a range it’s willing to spend on these items and agreed on one-time expenditures that won’t need funding each year. President Robert Vartabedian is reviewing the entire list for upgrades to Western’s campus before relaying his plan before the Board of Governors. The Board has a range they’re willing to spend on these items and agreed on one-time expenditures that won’t need funding each year. Vartabedian would like to see the Board willing to open the operating and auxiliary budgets between $800,000 to $1 million. He said that taking out over a million dollars out of the reserves would make him and the board uncomfortable considering the past funding problems that Missouri Western has faced with the state. The Reserves has over $8.3 million and Vartabedian would like to see a total of $800,000 taken out of the operating budget and $200,000 taken out of the auxiliary budget for the expenditures to the campus. “This is a first time in a long time that we could do something like this,” Vartabedian said. “We’re confident that the financial free-fall that we experienced is over and we can look forward to making progress to our university.” The items that Vartabedian has viewed with his cabinet have been broken down into different categories based on where the most necessary improvements must be made first to ensure the safety of the campus. He said that taking out more than million dollars out of the reserves would make him and the board uncomfortable considering the past funding problems that Missouri Western has faced with the state. Items that will be included in the list presented before the Board of Governors will included $334,000 in deferred maintenance to the campus, $120,000 in computers for the engineering and technology program, $100,000 in Degree Works, a program that would be beneficial for the Registrars office and $100,000 to bring in consultants to create a facilities master plan for Western. “The deferred maintenance needs to be taken care of right away,” Vartabedian said. “I just don’t want to sit on any longer because it’s just going to get worst.” Student Governor Brian Shewell gathered information from student leaders at the President’s Leadership Conference last month and asked students to rate which items they believe must be taken care of now. He said the main concerns students addressed are the improvements to the student union, parking, and a need for the increasing new food items in the cafeteria. Improvements for Wilson and Potter Hall will be discussed in the next capital campaign Shewell said. “This issue is extremely important to me since I’m the voice of the students,” Shewell said. “I needed the student input on campus to bring the Board of Governors.” The information that Vartabedian and student leaders will submit to the Board of Governors is not finalized and will need a vote of approval. Kylee Strough, chair of the Board of Governors, said that the board is waiting to hear the President’s cabinet on what the top priorities that the university must take care of immediately. The board is willing to listen but stresses that deferred maintenance is a top issue. “What we need to do is take care of the repair bills on these building and pieces of equipment that may haven’t been maintained as well as they could be,” Strough said. “We need to prioritize things that we can accomplish now and see what we can table for a bit longer.” The Board of Governors will wait for Vartabedian to come forth with the list in detail. There is no time table at this time, but Vartabedian stressed the need to begin work on the buildings that needed improvements for the safety of the students.