It is not news to students that Truman State University is in a budget crisis. We, as an institution, have been facing budget cuts for several years, and many have spoken about this issue. This is partially from constant cuts to higher-education funding on a state level. Now, the state has added an extra hoop for colleges and universities to obtain funding — six new performance goals.
With these recent provisions, 10 percent of our core funding is now based on meeting these six performance goals. These new goals focus on career placement outcomes, degrees granted, success on senior tests, core expenditures on instruction, the increase in the University’s payroll, and the change in net tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates.
Despite Truman’s confidence in meeting all the goals, many universities across the state are concerned about not being able to meet them. Failure to meet any or all of the six would affect tuition rates, availability of faculty and staff, resources, and other important parts of how a university functions.
We understand that this is a struggle for administrators, but it’s important to recognize this affects students and faculty too. Addressing this process could be easier if the Truman administration would be more transparent about our situation. Truman puts a high value on communication, yet students have received little to no information about this change to University funding. In the last few weeks, The Index has reported on the budget situation, and Index staff know that the administration has reached out to faculty. However, the only information that students have received from administration so far was in a statement from University President Sue Thomas to the Board of Governors in which she projected Truman would meet all six goals.
The first step toward progress is addressing the problem. We, The Index Editorial Board, think the University should be up front with students about the issues it currently faces — not just because it influences the futures of students’ at this institution, but also because students have the power to affect this issue.
Truman students, when properly informed, have the ability to stand up against the budget cuts at the state level. Many students are registered Missouri voters and, as such, can start a discussion with Missouri government about how these cuts affect students. This requires students to not only be aware of the issue but to be educated about the possible options and steps for action.
We applaud the University for promoting Truman before the appropriations committee, but students could have also been part of that process as well. If the University wants students to get involved and help with issues, transparency must be present. Only then can the University properly start to address the budget problems on a social level.