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Feb. 16, 2011
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Northwest Missouri State University President Dr. John Jasinski on Wednesday testified to the Missouri House Appropriations Education Committee that the University is "poised to execute and succeed in 2011 and beyond" but it will need lawmakers' help to keep higher education accessible and affordable.
Jasinski was one of several University presidents and chancellors to appear at the capitol in front of the house appropriations committee to address issues related to the impacts of funding shortfalls on the state's higher education institutions.
The committee asked university leaders to speak to how their institutions are addressing the impacts of 7, 10 and 15 percent appropriations cuts, as well as the recent academic program review process. Northwest Vice President of Finance Stacy Carrick also testified to the committee on the University's behalf.
To read Dr. Jasinki's complete testimony to the Missouri House Appropriations Education Committee, click here.
During his testimony, Jasinski noted a range of Northwest successes, from high academic success rates - including a freshman success rate of 74 percent and a student-athlete success rate of 83 percent, both of which top other similar institutions - to the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship that has helped create 30 new jobs in the last six months. Ninety-five percent of Northwest graduates responding to a recent employment survey also reported finding employment or continuing their education within six months of graduation.
Additionally, with its innovative textbook rental and laptop programs, Northwest tallied a record fall enrollment of 7,142 students and has experienced 16 percent enrollment growth during the last four years through a managed growth plan.
Jasinski reported Northwest enhanced its financial position last year by making tough choices and collaborating, despite a 5.2 percent appropriations decrease. He said Northwest will continue to respond and transform in the face of proposed cuts.
"We are seeking further efficiencies, enhancing our signature programming opportunities and articulating our multiyear success strategies," Jasinski told the committee. "We in higher education must continue to address our challenges and realities head on and make sure we are laser-focused in what we do and why we do it. Northwest Missouri State University commits to you and the people of Missouri to ensure the public trust of our greatest asset - an educated citizenry."
Jasinski outlined several steps Northwest has taken to address funding shortfalls, including voluntary budget giveback contributions from the entire campus last year and a freeze on spending at the end of the last fiscal year.
"With regard to what we have done to address projected funding shortfalls, we need to mention our Organizational Success Task Force - representing constituencies from across campus - designed to address short-term budget issues and long-term strategic funding issues," Jasinski said. "The group currently is engaging with our executive team in reviewing budgets, programs and processes through the lens of being essential, important and elective. We are addressing budget shortfalls collaboratively and with a long-term focus on multi-year success strategies."
Northwest also realized savings by renegotiating contracts with suppliers to save $500,000, making facility improvements in-house for a savings of $419,000, saving $145,000 through non-replacement or combining of positions and position hiring pauses, refinancing bonds to save $402,000, reducing the number of land-line telephones throughout campus to save $276,000, and changing employees' sick leave and vacation policies to reduce future liabilities by $1.4 million. Additionally, Northwest continues to save money through the use of alternative fuel sources; the initiative has saved Northwest about $13 million since the early 1980s.
Jasinski noted Northwest has enacted numerous partnerships with other state institutions to offer programs designed to increase access, affordability, efficiency and effectiveness. He cited a partnership with Southeast Missouri State University to teach economics as one example. Northwest also has joint admission agreements with North Central Missouri College, Southwestern Community College and Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City that provide students with the benefits of a Northwest education while they pursue associate degrees at the two-year colleges.
Another partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., in St. Joseph, offers a master's degree that fits the needs of its staff scientists while providing new enrollment growth opportunities for Northwest.
In response to the state's academic program review, Northwest has identified seven undergraduate programs and one graduate program for elimination due to low numbers of students graduating from the programs.
"The academic program review should not be merely a cost-savings exercise," Jasinski said, and he encouraged the committee to consider the importance of a broad and diverse educated citizenry as well as the role public higher education plays in the economy.
Addressing how state appropriation cuts might impact Northwest, Jasinski reiterated the University is focused on a solution-oriented approach. However, further reductions in state appropriations, he said, could limit Northwest's ability to position itself for strategic multiyear success. While Northwest has significant deferred maintenance needs, funding reductions also would erode Northwest's ability to attract and retain top-flight faculty and staff, lead to increased tuition and fees, and prompt the reduction or elimination of programs, services and personnel.
"We are working hard to avoid adding to unemployment issues and we are striving to keep higher education accessible and affordable," Jasinski said. "We believe the 10 to 15 percent markers to not be in the state's best interests."
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468