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Missouri State University is postponing facility projects and closing buildings to reduce costs.
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Missouri State University is postponing facility projects and closing buildings to reduce costs.

MSU executives take pay cuts amid coronavirus

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Missouri State University is facing a budget shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic, and executive pay cuts are part of the solution to help fill the gap.

MSU President Clif Smart announced the salary reductions in a blog post yesterday. Smart said his pay would be reduced by 20% in May and June, and other members of the leadership team, including vice presidents, deans, provosts and the West Plains campus chancellor, would voluntarily take 10% pay cuts for the next two months.

"As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we are presented with a litany of additional revenue reductions, expenditures, and short and delayed payments on amounts owed to the university," Smart said in the blog post.

Smart additionally said MSU would eliminate online course incentive payments for faculty for summer classes, a decision expected to generate $700,000 in savings. Online-only classes this summer, he said, mean the university will receive $900,000 less in tuition and fees due to the university canceling some student expenses.

Other budget cuts at MSU include:
• the postponement of 133 campus facility projects;
• a reduction for 65 full-time staff members to two-thirds pay, with more likely to follow;
• a hiring freeze on open positions through June;
• the closure of most campus buildings to decrease utility costs; and
• the cancellation of all events and travel through June.

Smart said the budget cuts are necessary after the state recently withheld $7.6 million from MSU's appropriation allowance. Unbudgeted revenue reductions and expenditures include more than $3.5 million in housing credits, and $1 million each in meal plan credits, contract revisions and other credits, such as study-away programs.

Federal funding will plug some of the gap, Smart said, pointing to $31 million in such monies authorized for MSU by Gov. Mike Parson and more than $14 million through the national Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. However, he said federal funds carry restrictions, such as a clause in the CARES Act requiring at least 50% of funds to be used to provide emergency financial aid and other help to students.

"While we will work to utilize these funds as much as possible to fill the void of unbudgeted expenditures and revenue losses due to the coronavirus, these federal funds are not a dollar-for-dollar substitute for losses to the university’s general operating revenue," Smart said in the blog post.

The MSU Board of Governors-approved budget for fiscal 2020 includes nearly $193 million in planned operating revenues. The fiscal year ends June 30.

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