Truman State University President Sue Thomas testified about the effects of proposed decreases in state funding to public universities before a House Subcommittee Jan. 30 in Jefferson City.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens released his proposal for the state’s 2019 fiscal year budget last week. The plan calls for cutting core funding to Missouri’s public four-year colleges and universities by $76.4 million from the previous fiscal year’s budget. For Truman, this would translate to a 7.7 percent cut in core state funding. Funding for higher education was also reduced last fiscal year.
Thomas was among six university presidents who testified Tuesday. Each school’s representative was given 10 minutes to present.
To begin her testimony, Thomas spoke about Truman’s status as the state’s only public liberal arts college and highlighted Truman’s rankings and awards. She also discussed Truman’s low student debt relative to the national average and said the rate of students defaulting on student loans is the lowest among Missouri public schools at about 2.8 percent.
“Truman works very hard … to help students understand that they should not take out one more cent than what it takes to fund their education,” Thomas said. “We work really hard with our students to look at financing their education as just that — financing the education part of it.”
Thomas said Truman’s administration is already small and centralized, so Truman is unable to make cutbacks as drastic and cost-saving as other universities are making within administration. She said Truman has cut costs by reducing the number of faculty members, offering retirement incentives and installing energy-efficient utility systems.
A common concern among the university presidents who testified is the effect more funding cuts would have on their institutions. Multiple presidents pointed out state funding levels are currently equal to or less than those in 2000 without accounting for inflation.
For more information about the higher-education budget hearing, pick up a copy of The Index on Thursday, Feb. 1.