We have had much good news to celebrate recently, and I anticipate even more to come. There is a renewed sense of coming together, our new initiatives are being met with excitement, the media coverage has been positive and we have just received a $1 million donation from the Sunderland Foundation for the Potter Hall Annex project. Thank you to everyone for making these things possible.
At the same time, as you know, the University faces financial challenges that need to be quickly addressed. Over the past several months, we have been working tirelessly to assess our revenues, expenditures and budgeting processes. Now that we have a clearer picture of the situation, we find it necessary to revise our budget. Unfortunately, the new budget reflects an operating deficit of nearly $3.2 million. A number of conditions forced us to reassess and revise our budget, including but not limited to:
- Decreased fall semester enrollment, particularly the decline in first-time freshmen
- Higher scholarship awards, significantly exceeding the original budget
- Persistent rise in utility and insurance costs
- Unexpected major repair and maintenance items
The Board of Governors today adopted this budget for the current fiscal year with the challenge that we actively strive to achieve a balanced budget.
The smaller student body, combined with our efforts to provide an affordable education, require that we closely analyze and adjust our expenditures to ensure our future success. Naturally, we need to minimize the impact these adjustments might have on students – particularly in the areas of recruitment, access, diversity, academic quality, research opportunities, retention, success and ultimately, timely completion of degree.
In past years, the Missouri Western community has experienced lean financial times. By using reserve funds, reducing operating budgets and instituting hiring freezes, we were able to avoid major cuts. Unfortunately, we cannot cover our deficit using similar measures for a host of reasons.
For the past several months, we have been looking at ways to reduce costs and increase enrollment and retention. We have already implemented several measures to reduce the deficit; however, we need to do much more. At this point, we are formulating a two-year action plan to tackle our financial challenges, balance the budget and strengthen the University going forward. We will continue to flesh out the details of this plan based on ongoing discussions across campus.
I remain encouraged and optimistic. I believe this two-year plan will carry us forward. At the same time, please know that it will require everyone to work in unity to make it succeed. We have the talent, energy and ability to overcome our current challenges and secure our future for years to come. We need to believe in ourselves, talk positively, and demonstrate our belief in the long-term success of Missouri Western through our commitment and actions
Starting next week, I will hold a series of open forums to discuss our situation in greater detail, answer questions and discuss approaches to ensuring our financial stability. Those forums will be held in Kemper Recital Hall, Spratt 101, at:
1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30
3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31
8:15 a.m. Friday, Nov. 1
If you have questions, comments and suggestions before then, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I believe everyone is working toward a common understanding of the situation, and appreciates the importance of maintaining positivity for this plan to succeed. Together, we need to focus on Missouri Western’s many strengths while working to resolve our challenges. This means constantly championing the successes of our students, the quality of our academic programs and the strengths of our faculty, staff and University.
Thank you for all you do every day for our students, our University and our community. We have been entrusted with a rich legacy and important mission to educate, empower, innovate and equip a workforce highly trained in diverse disciplines. I look forward to working together to continue Missouri Western’s legacy and realize our mission.
Matt Wilson, President
Missouri Western State University