April 29, 2020–By a unanimous vote, the Board of Governors at Missouri Western State University approved a financial strategy recommended by university administration to focus on programmatic strengths, align expenses with revenue, reduce costs and add new programs responsive to marketplace demands.

With nearly all universities facing unprecedented challenges, Missouri Western has responded over the past nine months by initiating measures to stabilize its finances and crafting innovative strategies to better serve students going forward. 

Working from a comprehensive review of under-enrolled programs vetted by a nine-member Academic Review Board composed of Missouri Western faculty and administrators, the campus community provided extensive feedback to the Provost about potentially phasing out and suspending admissions into certain programs that have consistently failed to meet the minimum state threshold of 10 graduates per year. 

Last week, President Matt Wilson recommended to the Board of Governors that Missouri Western add six new programs (cinema, law, applied mathematics, esports management, cybersecurity, and earth and environmental science) and retain nearly 60 vibrant programs while phasing out and suspending new admissions into under-enrolled majors or concentrations in 20 areas over the course of the next three years. Of note, 80% of the programs recommended for phase-out enroll on average fewer than four students per year. 

The University’s shift away from under-enrolled courses and programs should ultimately yield $5 million in savings annually through personnel alignments. In addition, President Wilson recommended more than $1 million in budget savings from the administrative salary and athletics budgets.

“These actions will help sustain the University through difficult financial times, but it has involved a heartbreaking process, with very difficult decisions that affect our entire campus community,” Wilson said. “As challenging as this is, it is imperative that we join together to build up Missouri Western with positivity and hope. Working together, we can assure that the University will continue to serve students, prepare them for careers, and fulfill our important mission with strength, dedication and resolve.”

The recommendations, including the full list of academic program recommendations can be found here. Advising teams will begin working immediately with students in affected programs to determine a pathway to complete their degree over the course of the next three years. 

The recommended reductions in staffing levels will occur between now and the end of 2021. Reductions will occur through the elimination of vacant positions, voluntary retirements,  non-renewal of year-to-year contracts of non-tenured faculty, and one-year terminal contracts for tenured faculty. 

“We appreciate that the faculty impacted are quality professors who have dedicated their time and talents to Missouri Western,” Wilson said. “I am genuinely grateful for their dedication to our students and university. We only wish there were other options to get us through these challenging times.”

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.