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President Smart: A Good Legislative Year for MSU

Missouri Capitol Building
Capitol Building in Jefferson City/Credit: Scott Harvey

It’s the first time in five years that the Missouri General Assembly has increased funding appropriations for Missouri State University. As KSMU’s Scott Harvey reports, the additional $25 million lawmakers set aside for higher education, which still awaits the signature of Gov. Nixon, means an additional $2.4 million for MSU.

The additional funding is tied to a performance-based model and looks at five criteria like graduation and retention rates, all of which MSU achieved in the latest school year.  And according to President Clif Smart, the new funding will help supplement lease payments for the university’s Brick City location downtown, pay out pension benefits, as well as offer more money for university employees.

“Both from the state legislature, as well as from the tuition and fee increase, and increased enrollment, we’ve put about 85 percent of that into our people. That’s promotions for faculty, that’s into the pension fund for MOSERS, that’s an across-the-board two percent pay raise for everyone,” Smart said.

Additionally, the university received another $1.3 million to fund a new occupational therapy program in Springfield, as well as to increase and begin some new allied health programs on the university’s West Plains campus.

Where the President would have liked to see funding allocated was in capital improvements, noting that in addition to the school’s priorities going into the session of increasing both the core budget and health programs, was a bonding initiative. Specifically, MSU is seeking dollars to either build a new life sciences building or renovate existing buildings. Smart believes it’s the desire of every four and two-year institution in Missouri to update their infrastructure.

“We all desperately need capital money – it’s been more than a decade since we had any from the state – and as a result of that I think we’re all falling a little bit behind in terms of our academic buildings and their upkeep. So that will be a priority for next year.”

Hear our complete conversation with President Smart, as part of our monthly series Engaging the Community, by clicking play above.

See our February conversation with President Smart, which explore MSU’s priorities heading into this year’s legislative session.

For KSMU news, I’m Scott Harvey.