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Missouri State University president Dr. Michael Nietzel gave his State of the University address Wednesday, detailing many goals for the upcoming year. The university’s budget and the current economic climate, were two themes running through the speech. KSMU’s Theresa Carter reports.
The current Missouri economy is making a slow comeback, meaning money for public education is still tight. It’s likely that less money will be set aside for state schools in the 2011 fiscal year. Nietzel touched on this concern in his address.
"Here's why I think most experts agree that Missouri's budget problems, with respect to anything supporting higher education in particular, is not a one-time problem. Missouri's economic turn around is slow, because the economy is built on taxes and sales tax revenue. Missouri's unemployment is currently at 10 percent, and people are not buying as much."
Missouri and the Ozarks trail behind the national average of college completion for 25 to 34 year olds. Nietzel’s goals include looking at ways to change that outcome and increase overall college attendance, as well as to focus on increasing enrollment of non-traditional students at MSU.
Many other long-range ideas include reworking the university’s budget, departments, and programs. Nietzel mentioned the possibility of mandatory staff furloughs, increasing class sizes, cutting operating expenses, and suspending sabbaticals. The university president stressed that further discussion is still needed.
"What I would like to suggest is that this is just a list. No preliminary actions have been taken, other than beginning to guess what mightbe saved by doing certain things differently."
Overall, Nietzel was optimistic of the university’s ability to make the necessary changes, but emphasized that work must begin now to become better prepared for the future.
For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Carter.