SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Missouri State University is preparing to provide more resources in the midst of expected cuts to state funding.
President Smart said they are preparing, not only to open up MSU’s campus as temporary housing and medical facilities, but also how they plan to keep operating despite reimbursing students and staff, and less funding from the state.
“The state was down on Saturday to turn Hammons Student Center and JQH Arena to turn into some kind of hospital,” Smart said. “We’re working to empty out Woods House as kind of a potential residence hall to house health care workers. Both of these are contingency plans on when these hospitals fill up and when we hit a peak time on the virus.”
Smart says the university is prepared, JQH Arena was built with these situations in mind.
“We were prepared for that, about 10 years ago we did a simulation of using JQH Arena in this kind of capacity,” Smart said. “It was built to be an emergency center in the case of any kind of catastrophe when it was planned, so we were not surprised when that request came and we’re working to get ready for that should it be necessary.”
MSU is also working to help give students back their money.
“We’re refunding 40% of residence hall fees, that was 3.5 million dollars of money that went back to students, or is in the process, today we signed an agreement with Chartwells so we’ll be refunding another million plus dollars in dining packages to students,” Smart said. “So if you think about, well there’s 7.5 million lost from the state, another 4.5 million revenue lost from housing and dining, the cancellation of the men’s basketball tournament is likely to cost us 650,000 – 750,000, I could go on.”
But for now, MSU is doing everything it can to save money while campus is essentially closed.
“The hiring freeze and holding open positions, eliminating part-time workers, the shutdown of all discretionary spending, there’s no travel, there are no events, there are no conventions, there are much less supplies being used, the building has closed down, which saves utilities so we’re doing everything we can to reduce spending in the short term,” Smart said.
Smart says the university also has it’s one reserves and could lean on federal funds to fill in budget gaps if necessary.
He says he’s also hoping for a big freshman class come august.