At the end of the 2019 school year Missouri Western was at an $11 million deficit, and after several cuts and many long months the deficit is now at roughly $4.5 million.
In Sept. of the 2020 Fall semester, MWSU had roughly a $3.9 million deficit, but due to COVID-19 and the unusual circumstances it’s caused, the deficit has increased again. At this point, the university is trying to find ways to adjust to try to bring the deficit back down.
Vice-President of Finance & Administration Darrell Morrison said that the university is expecting to see a little bit of a struggle for a little bit longer, but also says that the university is making great progress.
“We're still in a deficit situation, we're still under financial emergency. We are improving our situation and it is improving financially,” Morrison said. “Are we out of the woods? I would say not yet. But we're getting closer, we're moving in that right direction. Right now we're anticipating due to a lower enrollment, for various reasons, we may have to make an additional budget in the coming weeks, but it shouldn't be too dramatic.”
At the Board of Governors meeting on Thursday, Feb. 25, Morrison presented the financial situation. During the presentation, Morrison addressed how there are several different areas to look into when considering the potential cuts. Some of these areas include travel, supplies and services, unfilled personnel, and more.
Morrison said that it’s expected that there will be new cuts announced in the upcoming weeks.
“There's personnel, and then there are operating budgets and things like that. So we're looking at probably some trimming down on operating budgets,” Morrison said. “Minimal impact, I would say to the academic side, in my opinion. A lot of the activities that go on in the classroom are funded through student fees, which are separate and are designated for particular purposes. So they'll still have access to those for operating things if we were to trim some of these budgets.”
Missouri Western’s newly announced President Elizabeth Kennedy said that although there were lots of reasons that the deficit went back up, she believes the pandemic was one of the biggest factors involved.
“First of all, we've got to get back to “normal.” As you know, our revenue comes primarily from our students and the tuition that they pay,” Kennedy said. “When we have declining enrollments semester, after semester, after semester, you can just imagine what the graph looks like in terms of your revenue. So one, I think a very large part of that was driven by the pandemic, like just about every other University in the country.”
Despite getting some help from the state due to the pandemic, the University will still see a decline as long as students are not enrolling. Morrison said that he believes that many students decided to not enroll due to the fact that they are experiencing their classes virtually.
The BOG plans to release a new plan sometime in the upcoming weeks where they will announce what cuts they plan to make.