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Western president recommends cuts, proposals to save $6 million a year

The recommendations will be voted on by the Board of Governors during a video conference on April 29.

Posted: Apr 24, 2020 2:01 PM
Updated: Apr 24, 2020 2:09 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Missouri Western president Matt Wilson presented cost-saving measures that total more than $6 million to the Missouri Western State University Board of Governors on Friday.

In March, Missouri Western began an academic review process focusing on low enrollment programs in order to deal with a downward trend in student enrollment, strained state funding resources, rising costs, maintenance needs, long-term debt and the economic impact of COVID-19.

According to a statement from Missouri Western, the academic review process is designed to address these challenges while reducing costs, strengthening core programs and stabilizing the University’s financial health.

“As Missouri Western takes strategic measures to extricate itself from this delicate position, we seek to bring our offerings and staffing into balance with our enrollment numbers and expenses,” Wilson said.

Wilson added that over the last decade, full-time undergraduate students have decreased by about 1,000 students while staffing levels have increased.

“The program review and feedback phase yielded creative solutions that enabled some programs originally recommended for phasing out to be restructured or retained,” Wilson said. “This collaborative and innovative thinking is what Missouri Western needs to serve students and remain relevant and competitive in today’s rapidly changing landscape. I am appreciative of the hard work, time and thoughtful solutions brought forth by our faculty and staff.”

Wilson’s report includes five strategic recommendations:

  1. Senior leadership/administration restructuring to achieve an additional annual savings of approximately $600,000 per year.
  2. Adjustments and contributions to reduce the impact of athletics expenses on the university’s budget by approximately $500,000 per year.
  3. Program phase-out or restructuring for annual salary savings of approximately $5 million per year.
  4. New degree programs and initiatives together with the option of redesigning other programs that can be operated within recommended staffing levels.
  5. Other efficiencies to reduce costs and increase revenues.

“There is no question we have faced unprecedented challenges, from a state of financial distress to the yet unknown economic impact of COVID-19,” Wilson said. “Over the past nine months, we have been discussing how to best overcome these challenges. Albeit extremely difficult for everyone impacted, we have developed a plan that can achieve sustainability.”

Based on the feedback and recommendations received since the Academic Review Board’s report, President Wilson is proposing that the following degree programs be retained or redesigned including:

  • B.S.E. in Secondary Education
  • B.S. in Chemistry
  • B.S. in Applied Mathematics
  • B.S. in Health Information Management
  • B.S. in Medical Laboratory Science/Med. Tech.
  • B.M.E. in Music/Vocal
  • B.M.E. in Music/Instrumental
  • B.M. in Music Technology & Industry/B.M. in Music Performance & Industry
  • B.S. in Convergent Journalism
  • B.S. in Strategic Communication
  • Minor in Technical Communication (English)
  • Minor in Art History

New programs that are recommended for roll-out or development include:

  • Bachelor of Applied Arts in Performing and Cinematic Arts
  • Bachelor of Science in Law
  • Bachelor of Science in Math/Applied Mathematics with an emphasis on data analysis
  • Bachelor of Science in Recreation Sports Management/esports management and a minor in the same; and
  • Minor in Environmental and Earth Science.

According to a statement, in addition to the programs listed above, existing majors and concentrations also recommended to be retained for additional strengthening and emphasis include: graphic design, digital animation, biochemistry & molecular biology, biology, biology/health sciences, wildlife conservation and management, computer science, cybersecurity, psychology, criminal justice, legal studies, forensic investigations, law enforcement, legal assistant, criminal justice/law enforcement, criminal justice/legal studies, early childhood education, elementary education, special education, education assessment, TESOL, physical education, recreation sports management, physical therapist, population health management, nursing, health care leadership, nurse educator, accounting, finance, management, human resources, marketing, supply chain management, MBA in business administration, MBA in forensic accounting, MBA and nursing, manufacturing engineering technology, and construction engineering technology among others.

Missouri Western said it will continue to strengthen its science programs and offer multiple majors in biology and chemistry, but will consolidate several under-enrolled concentrations into stronger core degrees. The University will do the same type of shift with concentrations in computer science, psychology, criminal justice, secondary education, physical education, and recreation sports management in an effort to respond to student demand.

“Despite the challenges we face it is my hope that we can come together and support the University with hope for the future of Missouri Western, our students, campus and community. With understanding and support, Missouri Western can heal and emerge poised to transform and thrive.” Wilson said. “while we simply cannot be everything to everyone, focusing on our core strengths will enable us to grow stronger and thrive.”

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