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In this segment, Dr. Cofer talks about the new budget figures released by Governor Jay Nixon for the next fiscal year, and what that will mean for MSU.
Moore: Good morning, and welcome to our program “Ask the President: Dr. James Cofer on MSU, Current Events and Public Affairs." I’m Jennifer Moore and I’m joined in the studio by Dr. James Cofer, president of MSU. Good morning, Dr. Cofer.
Dr. Cofer: Good morning.
Moore: This week, Governor Jay Nixon gave his State of the State address and unveiled his annual budget. And that means state colleges and universities like MSU now have a better idea of just how serious these looming budget cuts we’ve heard so much about might be. So, Dr. Cofer, what was your initial reaction to these figures?
Dr. Cofer: Well, obviously, the governor’s recommendation is welcome news, considering we were hearing about 20 percent cuts as early as a month ago, and we had started doing some planning on that. But this is wonderful. The latest numbers they’re talking about are around seven percent. And for Missouri State, that’s 5.8 million dollars.
We’re meeting with the budget committee heads, and deans, the heads of their budget committees. And we’ll be sending out more recommendations to our budget committees. But I think if you look at where we are, we’re in really good shape, if you continue to use some of our reserve, [and] if you raise tuition just slightly. And what we’ve been told by governor is to keep higher education affordable, and to keep your tuition down.
But he really wants us to make sure that we have access to those kids that need it, and to make it affordable to everyone.
So we’re going to keep tuition down. My recommendation will be not to raise it any more than the CPI, the Consumer Price Index. And the CPI was 1.5 last year. So we’ll be raising our tuition 1.5. Now, we booked 2.5 last year, so we’ll be raising 1.5 this year.
And I think the increase is 94 dollars—I think is what I heard from CBHE. So you’re going to see a $94.75 increase in tuition, or something like that.
But that means we keep the quality up. And that means we don’t have to make these drastic cuts in services. And we can begin to plan on how to grow.
On behalf of the entire campus, I think we need to thank Governor Nixon and his staff for the hard work to minimize the reduction as much as possible.
You know, I think the other thing we have to remember is that the Missouri General Assembly has got a very difficult task on their hands moving forward. My discussions with our delegation lend me to think that they value higher education just as much as the governor.
So we’re looking forward to working with the legislature. We’re looking forward to working with the governor. And it’s just such a relief. It’s hard to express what a relief it is to be able to think differently about where we’re going.
Moore: And now that you have a better idea about what those figures might be, what will be the university’s strategy in moving forward?
Dr. Cofer: I think this gives us the opportunity, since the budget committees know about their budget now, they might want to look at doing some minimal reallocation. And then they need to look at what do they need to do in their college to make it distinctive?
How do we move Missouri State University to the next level academically? We don’t have to worry about cutting. Let’s think about growing now, and growing the institution from an academic standpoint.
So, I’m looking forward to future discussions with faculty and our deans about how we make MSU distinctive from an academic viewpoint.
Now, I fully expect Ken McClure and the administrative committee to continue to look at how we become more efficient, and I think that’s important. We need to see if we can be the most efficient institution we can be. So they’re going to continue to look at those things.
And the retirement incentive that we just offered gives us the opportunity to look at who does it, how we do it, how we pay people, and how we’re organized in the administrative areas.
And so, I’m very, very pleased that we don’t have to make these terrible cuts and we can begin to think about how we grow the institution from an academic standpoint so that when people think about Missouri State University, they think about quality. They think about a distinctive institution, and not one that had to do all these cuts and fire people and reorganize the world that makes services less than they were.
So we’re pleased with the governor’s recommendation, and we’re looking forward to working with the legislature.
Moore: Dr. James Cofer, president of Missouri State University, thank you very much.
Dr. Cofer: Thank you.
Moore: And we invite you, the listener can help shape our next discussion by submitting your own question or comment to Dr. Cofer. Just visit our website: www.ksmu.org/askthepresident. Thanks for listening.