Commissioner’s Partnership Plan for Centers Would Result in ‘50-50’ Split for Southeast, TRCC

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 22, 2005 — Southeast Missouri State University officials today took issue with a statement attributed to John Stanard, former chairman of the Three Rivers Community College Board of Trustees, in the April 21 issue of the Southeast Missourian, other area newspapers, and in a wire service story.

Speaking about a draft partnership agreement developed by Dr. Gregory Fitch, Missouri’s Commissioner of Higher Education, under which TRCC would teach 60 percent and Southeast 40 percent of the freshman and sophomore coursework at the area higher education centers in Sikeston, Malden, and Kennett, Stanard was quoted as saying “Southeast would be teaching 70 percent of the classes” and would in effect be asking TRCC “to pay half the expenses and teach 30 percent of the classes.”

Dr. Randall Shaw, assistant provost for extended learning at Southeast, said Stanard’s computation is not correct.Under the draft partnership agreement developed by Fitch after meeting with the presidents of both Southeast and Three Rivers and subsequently approved by the Southeast Regents but not approved by the TRCC Board of Trustees, the total courseload division would be very close to 50-50, Shaw said.

Using data available for Fiscal Year 2004, Shaw said, a total of 564 courses were offered at the three centers – 459 lower division mostly taught by TRCC and 105 upper division and graduate level all taught by Southeast.

In the FY04 example, if the 459 lower division offerings were split on the 60/40 basis, as in the Fitch plan, TRCC would teach 275 courses and Southeast 184. Adding the 105 upper division and graduate courses to the Southeast lower division number would give Southeast 289 courses, compared to 275 for TRCC. Thus, on a percentage basis, Southeast would have 51% of the total course offerings and TRCC 49% — not the 70% and 30% mentioned by Stanard. Shaw said the precise percentage could fluctuate slightly from year to year, based on the needs of students at the centers, but the courseload target would be similar to the FY04 example.

“Since each institution would offer approximately 50 percent of the total number of courses offered at the centers and each would pay half of the direct operating costs of the three facilities, we see Commissioner Fitch’s partnership plan as a very fair arrangement,” Shaw said.

This plan would permit Southeast to “break even” on the operation of the three centers and would still provide a substantial profit for Three Rivers, Shaw said.

Shaw said that under the current financial arrangements, which were put in place several years ago, before multi-million dollar reductions in Southeast’s state appropriation, the University pays almost all of the direct operating costs of the centers, while Three Rivers Community College pays very few of those direct costs but receives substantial revenues as a result of teaching most of the lower division courses. He said Southeast loses more than $800,000 a year in operating the three centers south of Cape Girardeau, while Three Rivers makes a profit of more than $900,000 annually.

This disparity, he said, threatens the financial viability of the centers and the loss from center operations forces Southeast students on the main campus in Cape Girardeau as well as at the centers to pay higher fees than would otherwise be necessary. Three Rivers has steadfastly refused to pay an equal share of the operating costs, Shaw said.