To meet remaining reductions needed to balance the FY18 budget and cover known budget needs for FY19, Southeast Missouri State University today announced the need to eliminate a total of 35 to 40 additional vacant and currently filled staff positions over the next five months. This represents approximately 4 percent of the University’s full-time workforce.
The reduction will impact 20-25 currently filled staff positions and 15-20 vacant staff positions across all divisions at Southeast, according to Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University, who made the announcement during an afternoon news conference.
“The magnitude of the University’s budget needs necessitates this action,” Vargas said. “This is a very difficult step and an announcement I regret having to make.”
He thanked those affected for their commitment to Southeast.
“As we navigated our initial budget challenges, we worked very hard to avoid impacting individual members of the University community,” he said. “But as we continue to operate in difficult times, the current realities have required tough decisions.”
Human Resources will hold initial notification meetings with affected staff members and their supervisors Jan. 29-Feb. 2. A second round of notifications is planned for the end of April or early May upon the conclusion of the academic restructuring process, he said.
In an attempt to ensure the quality, breadth and depth of Southeast’s educational offerings, no filled faculty positions are being eliminated at this time. Vacant instructional positions may be filled, reallocated to another academic department or may remain vacant, depending on instructional department needs, he said.
All affected employees will be given five months between notice and their last day of employment. Southeast Human Resources will work with affected employees, coordinating assistance with services, including resume writing and practice interviews, while helping them explore alternative employment options on and off campus, Vargas said. Affected employees who meet the required qualifications for another University position will be guaranteed an interview for a period of six months following their last date of employment.
Vargas reviewed the University’s budget needs, saying that since spring 2017, the University has worked to analyze services and reorganize departments in every division to meet one-time FY17 withholdings of $3.43 million and known and anticipated budget needs for FY18-FY20.
The University’s FY18 budget need is $6.6 million, which includes a nine percent reduction in state appropriations.
Budget saving measures already accepted by Vargas include the reorganization of units across multiple University divisions and reduced operating budgets; the implementation of a Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program, which resulted in 74 faculty and staff retirements beginning Dec. 31, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2018; the elimination of 18.5 vacant staff positions and changes to the University’s employee and retirement benefits program. A four-month hiring delay will remain in effect at Southeast to provide one-time funds as base budget reductions are implemented in FY19 and FY20.
Vargas said Southeast, has been successful at improving its performance as an institution, holding the line on tuition and improving student services to enhance retention and completion rates. He said Southeast has seen an 8 percent increase in overall enrollment, a 71 percent increase in enrollment from out-of-state students, and a 266 percent increase in international students since 2007. In-state tuition and fees at Southeast have increased only 14 percent over the last 10 years, well below the national average of 65 percent as cited by U.S. News and World Report. Southeast’s retention rate of 75.1 percent and its six-year completion rate of 51.9 percent are both the highest they’ve ever been since the University began tracking these data.
Even with budget challenges, Southeast is providing access to an affordable, quality education. Southeast is serving approximately 4,000 more students than in 1999, yet its current state appropriation funding is lower than in 1999. The University is also serving a total military affiliated population of nearly 1,200, dual credit enrollment has increased 110 percent over the last 10 years, and online enrollment is up nearly 8 percent over this time last year.