SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri State University is planning for even more factors for the upcoming semester due to the pandemic.
According to the University President Clif Smart, one of the most significant hurdles going into next year is the loss of about $12 million from the state.
“We knew something of this magnitude was coming because state revenue is down as a result of the pandemic,” said Smart.
Because of this loss, the school had to make some cuts of their own.
“We’ve got 68 positions frozen for next year,” said Smart. “We’ve done a hiring freeze. We’ve cut maintenance and equipment, and room repair kinds of budgets. We’ve cut travel in half.”
That, along with dipping into about $4 million worth of reserves will help balance things out. But, it’s not all bad news, though. Tuition will only increase by about 2.3% to account for inflation, which Smart says is standard.
“The good news is we’re not going to have to do furloughs or layoff immediately, and that’s really a positive thing,” said Smart.
The residual effects of the pandemic on MSU will go deeper than just the budget. International students could face some challenges as well.
“Some real travel issues with the Coronavirus, and the second one is the Visa process has essentially slowed way down,” said Smart.
Many international students stayed in town during the pandemic, but those newly enrolled will likely start online. While enrollment overall is down, Smart thinks it could have been a lot worse.
“We were afraid it was just going to crater, and it doesn’t appear to be doing that. Actually, our numbers look better than we had anticipated,” said Smart.
Looking to the fall, the school will announce a detailed plan in conjunction with OTC on Monday July 6, and Smart says there are contingency plans if needed.
“If the world changed in terms of the virus, and we needed to close the school down early, we have two or three points that we can do that,” said Smart.
As far as a formal masking plan goes, Smart says the university is not ready to announce a formal masking plan while they are seeking more input from students and staff.