The Murray State University Board of Regents approved on Friday the budget for 2018-19 fiscal year. Among other items, the board approved 2017-18 Academic Curriculum Changes and authorized moving forward with outsourcing dining services.
President Bob Davies on Friday recapped a year of intense budget consideration, including frequent committee meetings, town halls, a financial summit, in-depth board meetings and other communications that discussed "fiscal realities and university priorities."
"This is a tight budget as we have discussed, but it is one that is built on realistic expectations," Davies said.
He said the budget is fairly similar to the one presented in a May meeting. Among changes include the decision to increase the budget for enrollment management to accommodate a new position, as well as investment in new technology. He noted a fund in his own President's budget for strategic initiatives that could be used for additional resources the next Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management may need.
Vice President of Finance and Administration Jackie Dudley outlined several aspects of the budget. "Overall, we're decreasing our budget by $7.6 million," she said.
State appropriations are budgeted at $45.8 million in the state budget. This includes the Council on Postsecondary Education's Fiscal Year 19 estimate of Murray State's share of performance funding, amounting to $470,000. This amount also includes the $3.2 million specifically for Breathitt Veterinary Center.
Dudley said there is no growth built into the budget with regard to tuition and fees. "We have adjusted the budget for our current year fiscal 18 enrollment declines," she said. The budget is also adjusted down for the graduate and doctoral rate model and some other factors.
There is no cost of living adjustment built into the budget. Also not included is what would have been the third year of the non-exempt compensation adjustment (moving up employees at the lowest end of the pay scale) in anticipation of the next phases of a compensation study. Murray State also recovered more than $400,000 from the overtime pool.
There's a decrease of $1.3 million from the extra pay and temporary hiring pool, Dudley said. She noted that the smallest reduction in wages came from the student worker pool, now $139,000 less.
Changes affecting full-time equivalent positions include the deletion of 55 positions. Of those, 11 were filled (three have been hired into other positions). Dudley noted the addition of some positions. The total FTE decrease is $4.9 million.
Revenues in the budget are down $8.6 million. Dudley said this is different than what was presented in May ($10.8 million). She said the May numbers represented "impact" and did not include adjustments that departments might make, such as course fees. "So we budgeted that revenue. So it took that $10 million down and we budgeted the expenditures for very specific purposes. So our need didn't change, it's just that we started budgeting revenue and expenditures in this process that were revenues and expenditures that offset each other," she said. To break this down, unit allocations were $4.6 million, decreased by course fee expenditures. Taking those out the number is $6.4 million.
Academic Program Changes
The Board approved 2017-18 academic curriculum changes. Here's the list provided by Murray State. The italicized notes beneath the bullet-points are per the university:
- Community-Based Art Education Undergraduate Certificate
- Fine Art Photography Undergraduate Certificate
- Game Design Undergraduate Certificate
- Career and Technical Education Undergraduate Certificate
- Unmanned Aerial Systems Undergraduate Certificate
- Career and Technical Education Graduate Certificate
- Fine Art Photography Minor
- Cell Biology Minor
- Game Development Minor
- Community Health Coordinator Minor
- Holistic Senior Living Minor
- Humanities Minor
- TESOL Minor
- Unmanned Aerial Systems Minor
The following academic degrees and certificates were suspended or deleted during the 2017-18 academic year by the Academic Council.
- Bachelor of Arts in French – Suspended
- Bachelor of Arts in German – Suspended
- Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership Studies – Suspended
- Gifted and Talented – Suspended
- Master of Science in Athletic Training – Deleted
- Gerontology Undergraduate Certificate – Deleted
- Registered Dietitian Certificate – Deleted
- Faith-based Social Work Undergraduate Certificate – Deleted
- Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders Undergraduate Certificate – Deleted
These academic curriculum changes have been approved by the Academic Council and the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Suspensions (Pending Academic Council Approval)
- Masters in Economics
- Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
- Master of Arts in Elementary Education in Teacher Leadership
- Master of Arts in Childhood Education in Teacher Leadership
- Teacher Leader Masters in Secondary Education
These academic curriculum changes are awaiting approval by the Academic Council.
Among topics discussed in the meeting include board action authorizing President Davies to negotiate a contract with an outsourced dining services vendor, with the agreement to be presented to the assigned subcommittee for approval.
Two vendors under consideration visited campus last month, Sodexo Corp. and Aramark Corp.
According to the presentation to the Board, the employee impact of outsourcing dining includes 81 regular, active positions in total (some of these positions are vacant). The average number of part-time student positions is 201, including international students.
University officials did not present a timeframe for outsourcing dining services.
Parting Thoughts from Regent Chair Stephen Williams
In an interview after the meeting, outgoing Chair Stephen Williams (his term is expiring) acknowledged a "perfect storm" of financial circumstances over the past couple of years with the combination of increased expenses outside of Murray State's control and decreased revenues. "But there are also huge opportunities and when we look at some of the great things that have occurred over the past three or four years that can be built upon," Williams said, adding the challenges can be overcome under President Bob Davies and other university leaders.
"We're doing some really great things with enrollment that hasn't manifested itself fully yet, but it will," Williams said. In the report of the Chair, he charged Davies with further committing to boosting enrollment numbers.
"I'm very optimistic. I'm very confident. You've got great board leadership. You've got a management team that's focused. That's going to make some good things happen," Williams said.