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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

Smart Says MSU Still Trying to “Catch up” Employee Compensation, but Pleased with New Budget

Scott Harvey
Credit: Scott Harvey

Missouri State University President Clif Smart says the top priority in the recently passed budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year was giving the school’s employees a raise.

“We had a three year period where no one got an across-the-board raise. There was obviously inflation during those years. And so when you factor that in we haven’t caught up yet… we’ve been working over the last three years to try to catch up. And by that I mean trying to do compensation increases that were more than inflation.”

He notes the school hasn’t caught back up just yet, but this year’s 1.8 percent increase is double the .8 percent rate of inflation for 2014.  In addition, the budget includes an instructor equity pool and staff merit/equity pool, which resulted in 52 instructors and 300 staff receiving compensation increases based on equity and merit.

The school will also be adding new positions in the next fiscal year. Within the budget, $800,000 was allocated for new faculty and $300,000 for new staff, which when combined with the employee pay raises means that roughly 70 percent of MSU’s new money will go toward personnel, says Smart.

The president says Missouri State had about $6 million of new revenue to spend, which came from four primary areas. $3.5 million of that comes from planned increases in tuition and enrollment growth. $1.3 million in revenue came from restructured investments, according to Smart, and $1.2 million in performance funding appropriations from the state.

“So of that $6 million dollars of new money less than a quarter of that new money comes from the state this year. That’s not to say it’s not important – it is. But it does highlight how more and more of our ongoing money is coming from the students, from tuition, from our own reapportionment of money, and figuring out ways that we can become more efficient.”

Smart notes that part of the budget includes dealing with the kinds of things that businesses and families experience each year, in that prices “go up.”

He says the school is estimating increases to its utility bill, property insurance, and rental fees.

In terms of construction costs, Smart says most of how that is funded is not through general revenue. In fact, the new budget will not include money to pay for construction of the university’s three big current projects; Pummel Hall, the welcome center or O’Reilly Clinical Health Sciences Center.

“The exception of that is obviously with the O’Reilly building online and open for classes and the same true of the welcome center, we have increased costs that go along with that.”

The means added costs for utilities and custodial services, for example.

And moving forward, the same added costs will be true for Ellis and Hill Hall once renovations are complete. The buildings were included in the general revenue bonding bill approved by the legislature this year. Smart adds that the university will likely have to put reserve or private money into those projects to “get them done completely like we want them done.”