April 24, 2020–President Matt Wilson recommended a comprehensive set of cost-saving measures to the Missouri Western State University Board of Governors. The Board will vote on the recommendations to save more than $6 million annually at its video conference meeting Wednesday, April 29.
In March, Missouri Western initiated an academic review process focusing on low enrollment programs. Higher education institutions across the country continue to grapple with downward student enrollment trends, strained state funding resources, rising costs, deferred maintenance needs, long-term debt and now the economic impact of COVID-19. Missouri Western’s academic review process is designed to address these challenges while reducing costs, strengthening core programs and stabilizing the University’s financial health.
“As Missouri Western takes strategic measures to extricate itself from this delicate position, we seek to bring our offerings and staffing into balance with our enrollment numbers and expenses,” Wilson said, noting that over the past decade, full-time undergraduate students have decreased by about 1,000 students while staffing levels have increased.
Dr. Doug Davenport, provost and vice president for academic affairs, submitted his final recommendations to President Wilson earlier this week, the culmination of a process that included analysis by a nine-member Academic Review Board, preliminary recommendations by Dr. Davenport and then feedback from the campus and community members. Dr. Davenport then submitted his final report, which forms the basis of President Wilson’s recommendations.
“The program review and feedback phase yielded creative solutions that enabled some programs originally recommended for phasing out to be restructured or retained,” Wilson said. “This collaborative and innovative thinking is what Missouri Western needs to serve students and remain relevant and competitive in today’s rapidly changing landscape. I am appreciative of the hard work, time and thoughtful solutions brought forth by our faculty and staff.”
President Wilson’s report includes five strategic recommendations:
- Senior leadership/administration restructuring to achieve an additional annual savings of approximately $600,000 per year
- Adjustments and contributions to reduce the impact of athletics expenses on the university’s budget by approximately $500,000 per year
- Program phase-out or restructuring for annual salary savings of approximately $5 million per year
- New degree programs and initiatives together with the option of redesigning other programs that can be operated within recommended staffing levels
- Other efficiencies to reduce costs and increase revenues
“There is no question we have faced unprecedented challenges — from a state of financial distress to the yet unknown economic impact of COVID-19,” President Wilson said. “Over the past nine months, we have been discussing how to best overcome these challenges. Albeit extremely difficult for everyone impacted, we have developed a plan that can achieve sustainability.”
Based on the feedback and recommendations received since the Academic Review Board’s report, President Wilson is proposing that the following degree programs be retained or redesigned including:
- B.S.E. in Secondary Education
- B.S. in Chemistry
- B.S. in Applied Mathematics
- B.S. in Health Information Management
- B.S. in Medical Laboratory Science/Med. Tech.
- B.M.E. in Music/Vocal
- B.M.E. in Music/Instrumental
- B.M. in Music Technology & Industry/B.M. in Music Performance & Industry
- B.S. in Convergent Journalism
- B.S. in Strategic Communication
- Minor in Technical Communication (English)
- Minor in Art History
New programs that are recommended for roll-out or development include:
- Bachelor of Applied Arts in Performing and Cinematic Arts
- Bachelor of Science in Law
- Bachelor of Science in Math/Applied Mathematics with an emphasis on data analysis
- Bachelor of Science in Recreation Sports Management/esports management and a minor in the same; and
- Minor in Environmental and Earth Science.
In addition to the programs listed above, existing majors and concentrations also recommended to be retained for additional strengthening and emphasis include: graphic design, digital animation, biochemistry & molecular biology, biology, biology/health sciences, wildlife conservation and management, computer science, cybersecurity, psychology, criminal justice, legal studies, forensic investigations, law enforcement, legal assistant, criminal justice/law enforcement, criminal justice/legal studies, early childhood education, elementary education, special education, education assessment, TESOL, physical education, recreation sports management, physical therapist, population health management, nursing, health care leadership, nurse educator, accounting, finance, management, human resources, marketing, supply chain management, MBA in business administration, MBA in forensic accounting, MBA and nursing, manufacturing engineering technology, and construction engineering technology among others.
On April 29th, the Board of Governors will consider proposals to suspend new admissions into under-enrolled majors and concentrations that are too costly to continue and phase these programs out over a three-year period (rather than the initial recommendation of two years). These programs include: art, studio art, speech and theatre, speech communication, history, philosophy, applied computer technology, English, Spanish, French, technical communications, political science, sociology, economics, interdisciplinary studies, biotechnology, theatre and cinema and international studies. One under-enrolled graduate degree in Engineering Technology Management will also be recommended for phase-out.
Of note, Missouri Western will continue to strengthen its science programs and offer multiple majors in biology and chemistry, but will consolidate several under-enrolled concentrations into stronger core degrees. The University will do the same type of shift with concentrations in computer science, psychology, criminal justice, secondary education, physical education, and recreation sports management in an effort to respond to student demand.
“Despite the challenges we face it is my hope that we can come together and support the University with hope for the future of Missouri Western, our students, campus and community. With understanding and support, Missouri Western can heal and emerge poised to transform and thrive.” Wilson added that “while we simply cannot be everything to everyone, focusing on our core strengths will enable us to grow stronger and thrive.”
Missouri Western State University is a student-centered learning community preparing individuals for lives of excellence through applied learning. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit www.missouriwestern.edu.