For the past three years, the University of Missouri–St. Louis has been using campus reserves to cover expenditures because actual revenue generation has not met budget projections. Continuing to operate in this way is not sustainable. We must align campus operations and activities with the available resources – focusing on delivering quality educational programs and other strategic priorities.
This microsite was created to explain UMSL’s current financial situation and the process to find a way forward. It also gives students, faculty, staff and the public an avenue for input. The site contains a section on frequently asked questions, access to supporting documents and a link to a suggestion box – which will provide the sender anonymity.
Refer to this site regularly, as it will be updated often. Please access this site to participate in the process; your suggestions and support are important.
How much needs to be cut?
UMSL needs to reduce its operational expenditures by about $15 million to create a sustainable budget. The current operations budget – primarily coming from net student fees and state appropriations – is about $160 million.
Why is the university facing budget cuts?
There are numerous factors that have contributed to the current budget situation, including, but not limited to:
- Student enrollment has been lower than projected the past few years, with a 4% decrease this past fall. UMSL is not alone in this area, as most two- and four-year campuses in Missouri have experienced enrollment losses due to a lower number of high school graduates in Missouri and nationally.
- Student headcount might be down, but not the quality. UMSL students have the best academic credentials ever, qualifying for record-level scholarships and fellowships. We also have invested more in need-based aid to recruit and graduate qualified students regardless of ability to pay. As a result, UMSL will spend about $3 million more than budgeted this year.
- State appropriations have dipped significantly since FY2010. Appropriations have improved the past two fiscal years, but remain well below the $63.6 million UMSL received in FY2010.
- UMSL has used reserve funds for several major building projects – most notably in Seton Hall, the Nursing Administration Building, Optometry Patient Care Building, and replacing a major cooling tower that serves several North Campus buildings. The campus also decided to dedicate $2 million a year in general operations funds to construct the Science Learning Building.
- Note that the Recreation and Wellness Center and Anheuser-Busch Hall [new business building] did not require general revenue or reserve funds.
Why are we hearing about it now?
Chancellor Tom George first alerted the campus [and community] of budget concerns in the fall of 2014, with the implementation of a hiring freeze. Chancellor George said the campus was carrying a structural deficit – which has worsened because of lower than expected enrollment.
The campus budget situation was again mentioned in a November 2015 email from Provost Glen Cope and a detailed article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
What framework are you using when deciding what to cut?
Various groups have been meeting for months, assessing the situation and offering criteria for reviewing current campus activities. For example, an ad hoc group of academic deans and senior administrators, working under the auspices of the Office of the Provost, has developed guiding principles to be used in decision-making. This group was convened this fall in order to begin discussions about the challenges we face. Its guiding principles document was shared with the University Assembly Budget and Planning Committee.
Ultimately, UMSL will need to concentrate its resources on providing students a quality educational experience through selected academic programs that lead to degree completion and successful alumni. We will need to build on our high-demand disciplines which the campus can afford to offer.
Are there areas not under consideration for cuts?
The leadership team is currently formulating a list of areas not under consideration for cuts, such as institutional funds earmarked for scholarships and fellowships.
Who will decide what gets cut?
Each dean and/or unit manager has been asked to prepare 5%, 10%, and 15% operations budget reduction scenarios for consideration. Numerous groups and individuals will be consulted during this process, but the final decisions will be made by the chancellor and his senior advisors.
Will the cuts include layoffs?
The unfortunate truth is a budget reduction of this magnitude will require layoffs. Employee compensation accounts for about 74% of operational expenditures. There is no definitive estimate yet of the number of individuals who will be affected.
When will the cuts be announced?
We expect to announce the major components of a new sustainable budget in late spring.
No one knows the campus better than you. Please send ideas to help UMSL raise revenue or reduce expenditures to ensure the campus continues its tradition of providing classroom excellence and producing successful, work-ready graduates.
- UMSL Strategic Framework Document
- UMSL Student Enrollment
- UMSL State Appropriations
- UMSL Operational Revenue & Expenditures
- UMSL Current Funds FY2016 Budget
- UMSL bITS Proposal
- UMSL Budget Memorandum
- UMSL Budget Timeline
- UMSL Budget Update
- UMSL Budget and Planning Committee Update
- UMSL SGA Open Forum
- UMSL Budget Suggestions Summary
- UMSL Budget Proposal
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