Northwest Missouri State University’s Board of Regents approved the 2018-2019 budget, during its June 22 meeting, which includes the education and general budget and the auxiliary services budget, totaling about $119 million.

The budget addresses strategic investments, revenues, reallocations and expense reductions based on priorities related to learning experiences, protecting access and affordability, faculty and staff and preserving long-term viability. It reflects a decrease of 2.6 percent, or $800,000, in state appropriations and a one percent tuition increase for undergraduate students that the Regents approved in March. It also includes discipline-specific course fees and increased room and board rates.

In her presentation, Northwest Vice President of Finance Stacy Carrick reiterated the university’s goal of building a budget that aligns with multi-year strategic plan objectives focused on growing revenues and gaining operational efficiencies as part of an overall financial plan. Carrick highlighted a number of strategic objectives including profession-based learning and co-curricular experiences as well as online professional programs in fields such as business and education and the launch of an undergraduate nursing program. “As we think about what’s happening in the economic environment, with what’s happening across the state and the nation with regard to higher education, we are continuing to transform our business model,” Carrick said, noting Northwest’s growth in online programs as one example. “We are looking at how we selectively let go of the past, optimize for today and build for the future.”

Regent Jason Klindt asked several questions concerning over $600,000 expenses including the continued presence in north Kansas City with the additional campus and a consulting contractor which has recently been hired without the Regents’ formal approval. He asked for a report after the consulting contractor has worked for six months. He noted the creation of these type of initiatives have continued operational expenses and cited the Hughes Fieldhouse as an example.

Regent George Speckman inquired about the proposal of a new welcome center on campus and used this question as an example to learn at what point of the prospective improvements development is the Regents involved with decision making. Staff noted this type of activity would be included in the campus master plan and would have gained Regents approval earlier.

The budget was approved with vote of 6-1; Klindt voted no.

Other business

Among other agenda items, the Regents approved a five-year renewal of its dining services contract with Aramark Educational Services, LLC. Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Matt Baker noted Northwest’s Campus Dining offerings continue to receive favorable support from students.

The Regents accepted two technology-related items in alignment with the student-approved cybersecurity designated fee; approving a five-year cybersecurity contract with Howard Technologies for services provided by Barracuda to enhance email security and help protect against phishing, ransomware and ghostware attacks at $192,000 and a three-year technology purchase through Microsoft for $286,000 to add security services and help protect against unauthorized access to university user accounts.

The Regents authorized a revised 2019-2020 academic calendar to address inconsistencies in class schedules and explore opportunities for intercession coursework between traditional semesters. As a result, Northwest’s fall 2019 semester will begin Wednesday, August 21, and provide students with a week-long break during the Thanksgiving holiday. With the same premise, the Regents approved a 2020-21 academic calendar; fall classes in 2020 begin Wednesday, August 19.

Also approved were the appointments of 239 full-time faculty including 12 new with nine having tenure and 116 adjunct faculty for the 2018-2019 academic year; plus the renewal of an agreement between Northwest and the Northwest Foundation, which oversees and manages private donations in support of the university. The agreement was extended to a five-year commitment.

The Regents reelected Dr. Pat Harr as its chair and Dr. Marilou Joyner as vice chair.

It was noted the university faculty and staff will be out July 4-6.