The spring of 2017 was not an easy semester for Truman State University. With a revenue shortfall at the state level, Governor Eric Greitens and the Missouri General Assembly were forced to make cuts to the state budget. As a result, money was withheld from public universities that had been previously been promised to the institutions for the fiscal year. For Truman, this meant a reduction in our operating budget and a $50 surcharge for each full-time student. Additionally, it stalled progress on the Greenwood Autism Clinic, since there was not enough funding to proceed past the planning stage of the project.
The state’s higher education budget for the fiscal year was reduced by 9 percent through withholdings the Governor’s office. The lack of funds put Truman’s administration, as well as other public universities within Missouri, in a tough spot. Truman prides itself on delivering a high-quality education at a low cost, and it seemed unlikely that Truman would come out of the situation without raising tuition significantly or making large cuts to academic budgets. Thankfully, however, the damage was minimal.
We, the Truman Media Network Editorial Board, commend the administrative staff of Truman State University for how well they have responded to the decrease in state funding and subsequent reduction in the University’s budget. In planning the budget for this fiscal year, which started on July 1, Truman administration assumed the worst and drafted the budget around the maximum 9 percent cut in state appropriations. The administration’s prudence and ability to plan ahead ultimately paid off as the state’s withholding was increased.
While the overall academic budget did take a hit, the budget of each academic department was fully shielded from cuts. Additionally, instead of laying off faculty or staff, vacant positions were reconfigured or eliminated. In contrast, the University of Missouri system, laid off around 200. Thankfully, that did not happen to Truman. Tuition was increased, but only by a modest amount — 2.1 percent for in-state students and 3.3 percent for out-of-state students.
Though we applaud the administration for these solutions, we are disappointed to see that the faculty and staff did not receive raises this year. We at TMN believe professors and university staff should be rewarded more so for their quality and the hard work they put in. For this reason, we hope to see change in the near future. Though this is far from an ideal scenario for the University, the administration has done a good job in handling a bad situation. With its focus on academics and affordability, the University has succeeded in preserving the most important elements of our institution.