COLUMBIA — With the University of Missouri System's annual operating expenses down 10 percent from fiscal year 2009 as of the end of April, President Gary Forsee told the Board of Curators on Friday that the four campuses have "developed muscle tone for controlling expenses."
That fitness will be tested again this year as legislative budget cuts have reduced state appropriations for the UM System by $96.8 million for fiscal year 2011.
Nikki Krawitz, vice president for finance and administration, presented the 2011 budget to the curators during a two-day meeting Thursday and Friday. The board approved the budget Friday morning.
Krawitz said total state appropriations for next year are around $452.5 million. Appropriations account for about 17 percent of the total budget for the UM System, which is $2.6 billion for fiscal year 2011.
More than one-third of the decrease in appropriations, $35 million, is due to capital appropriations that were anticipated for fiscal year 2010 but subsequently vetoed or withheld.
Krawitz said Gov. Jay Nixon plans to cut an additional $350 million from the state budget by July 1. Although the cuts are expected to leave the UM System's core operating budget unaffected, Forsee said the budget gap probably will impact other programs.
The university system is "very focused on student accessibility and affordability" despite the budget cuts, Forsee said. "Our key focus has been to protect the quality of the delivery of our mission of teaching, research and services."
The curators in April approved tuition increases for out-of-state undergraduate students and some graduate students. In-state undergraduate tuition remained unchanged, however, in accordance with a November agreement between the UM System and Nixon to freeze in-state undergraduate tuition as long as state budget cuts do not exceed 5.2 percent of operating appropriations.
The financial crunch will prohibit campuses from giving salary increases to administrators and faculty for the second year in a row. A 1 percent contingency pool will pay for raises for faculty who are promoted.
Forsee said the situation has put "an incredible amount of pressure on us collectively to work with the governor's office, the state and the General Assembly" to find a way to fund salary increases across the board in 2012.
As reported previously in the Missourian, MU faculty salaries fall last among the 35 ranked schools belonging to the American Association of Universities.
Faculty compensation is "one of our highest, if not the highest, strategic priority," Forsee said.
The 2011 state budget was bolstered by $887 million in federal stabilization funds that will not be available in fiscal year 2012.
Krawitz said administrators are "acutely aware" of the economic challenges facing the state in the next fiscal year.
"We've known for a couple of years that 2012 could be even worse from a budget perspective," Krawitz said, "We've been working hard to get ahead of the curve and preserve the quality of our services by finding ways to be more efficient and effective."
The budget talks were overshadowed at the curators' meeting by interest in whether MU will remain in the Big 12 or join a different conference. At a news conference Friday morning, Forsee fielded a question about whether any new athletics revenue from a different conference alignment might be funneled toward faculty salaries. That, he said, would be something he and MU Chancellor Brady Deaton would have to discuss with Athletics Director Mike Alden.