Regents to consider budget cuts, restructuring

Friday, October 18, 2002

The board of regents is set to approve budget cuts and restructuring moves today that Southeast Missouri State University officials say will save the school nearly half a million dollars this fiscal year.

"We are at a place that we need to approve this budget if we are going to get it in balance," said Don Dickerson, president of the board of regents.

The regents will meet at 9 a.m. in the University Center Ballroom. Besides budget cuts, the regents will consider a new promotion pay plan for faculty that includes rewarding full professors.

At 2:30 p.m., following the meeting, the regents will dedicate the new five-story residence hall on Henderson Avenue as part of homecoming festivities. The public is invited to tour the new hall after the ceremony.

The latest spending cuts, which include eliminating a handful of positions and shuffling a few others, are the final piece in a $5.26 million puzzle of cuts and fee increases this fiscal year, designed to make up for a drop in state funding for the Cape Girardeau school.

With the cuts, the university will be left with an $81.6 million operating budget, not including self-supporting auxiliary services such as campus housing.

No pay raises

Southeast employees, including school President Dr. Ken Dobbins, won't get pay raises this fiscal year because of the tight finances, Dickerson said. The new pay plan for faculty wouldn't take effect until next fall and would be in addition to any annual raise.

The budget plan includes closing aging Parker Pool, a move that Dickerson said may disappoint users of the pool. But he said it's better to close the pool than eliminate jobs.

"I would rather do some things like that than let people go," he said.

The plan involves relocating printing and duplicating and central receiving -- the university's mailroom -- from their off-campus site on Fountain Street to new quarters on campus.

Southeast's swimming pool, housed in Parker Hall, would be filled in and renovated to provide new space for printing and duplicating at a cost of $400,000. The facilities management building on Washington Street would be expanded by 13,000 square feet to provide room for central receiving at a cost of $700,000.

The cost of both projects -- expected to be completed by June -- will be paid from fund balances, bond proceeds and the sale of the Fountain Street building to the developer of the Marquette Hotel renovation project, school officials said. The developer plans to use the building for parking for the hotel, which is being renovated for state offices.

Promotion plan

As for the promotion pay plan, school officials said it would provide more money for faculty moving up the teaching ranks, as well as boost the pay of full professors who could apply for the merit pay every five years.

Faculty would have to apply for the merit money and show what they've accomplished in order to receive the promotions and added pay.

Under the plan, assistant professors moving up to the associate professor level would realize a $6,400 increase in salary; associate professors moving up to full professor would get $7,900 pay increases.

Full professors could get $4,000 pay increases every five years if they meet merit requirements each time.

Biology professor Allen Gathman likes the pay plan. He said it gives long-time faculty an incentive "not to retire on the job."

Gathman said the promotion pay plan could help boost faculty morale.

"If you don't stand to benefit at all financially from working your butt off, you feel like an idiot after awhile," he said.

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