By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
Missouri Western State University President Elizabeth Kennedy says the university is in sound financial shape, though she wants to see more progress.
“We still have a ways to go in terms of looking at revenues, expenditures, and how we’re dealing with that,” Kennedy tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post during an interview in her office. “Obviously, it’s going to be tied to enrollment. It will also be tied to state appropriations and what we might get there.”
State legislators were very good to Missouri Western this past legislative session, according to Kennedy. Missouri Western received a 3.7% state appropriation increase in the current state budget. The legislature also appropriated $2.5 million for capital improvements on the St. Joseph campus.
Still, Kennedy is aware what the legislature gives, the legislature can take away.
“I think it’s been a good year, but lest we forget, in terms of state budgeting, what happens at the state level, one of the easy marks, if you will, is education. So, we have to be cognizant of that,” Kennedy says.
Kennedy followed in the steps of former President Matt Wilson who guided the university through $6 million in budget cuts, which included eliminating majors that graduated too few students. Kennedy says the university is still dealing with some of the fallout from those moves.
Kennedy says a key to the university’s future is reopening the St. Joseph campus to in-person learning. As she views a new fall semester unfolding, she recalls the spring of 2020.
“We were gearing up for our fall 2020 semester, but it was going to be with COVID, no vaccine, no way to mitigate, still learning about the disease and learning how to mitigate it,” Kennedy says. “So, the thought of, ‘I spent the last semester of my senior year in my bedroom with my computer and now I’m going to go to college and sit in my dorm room with my computer.’ Why would you do that?”
Kennedy says Missouri Western will be better able to assess its financial position at the end of the month when the final fall semester student count is taken.
“We’re getting there. Right? We’re definitely making progress.”