By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
Missouri Western State University President Matt Wilson is in Jefferson City today to address the House Appropriations Committee.
Wilson says he will not just represent Missouri Western’s interests during his talk with legislators, but also the needs of higher education in the state.
“Fifteen-20 years ago, the legislature used to fund probably about 75% of our operating expenses, which enabled us to keep tuition even lower,” Wilson tells host Barry Birr on the KFEQ Hotline. “Fast forward to today, the legislature’s contribution is about 26%.”
Wilson says the drastic cut in state funding over the years has caused colleges to struggle to raise the money needed to fulfill their mission. Wilson adds, though the state contribution to the college budget has fallen sharply, the reporting requirements from the state have increased.
“One of our areas of emphasis is to retain students and to get them through (school) and we know that the more support that we provide to students, the more likely it is that they succeed,” Wilson says. “So, it really is a tug-of-war between what do you do with tuition, with decreased funding and increased need and increased reporting requirements and that’s really one of the struggles that we have.”
Wilson admits he’s new to the state, so he doesn’t have a handle on how Missouri treats its colleges. But he has seen other states cut university budgets first when money gets tight.
Wilson says he comes to Missouri Western with a fresh perspective. He says a top priority for any college president always revolves around money matters, especially a president new to the institution.
“We are in a process right now, coming in with a new team, looking at what we can do to overcome our financial challenges, because we have those,” Wilson says. “We operate on a shoestring budget. We are doing everything possible to impact and give back to the community and there are so many programs where we do that. Right now, we are looking at not only how we can do that, but we’re actually doing it.”
Wilson says the university will cut colleges and eliminate deans in the fall. He says Missouri Western is streamlining its services to improve efficiencies.