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Morgan: Morehead State's future difficult, but hopeful

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Morehead State University President Dr. Jay Morgan announced highlights of the university's budget plans to the campus community Friday.

In a series of forums, Morgan remarked MSU is doing comparatively well this fiscal year, given Governor Bevin's proposed state budget and an increase in pension costs.

“We have been very conservative in our hiring,” Morgan said. “We've been very conservative in what we've spent, and it's come back to help us. In that perspective, we are in much better shape than many of our sisters around the state.”

However, Morgan said the fiscal year beginning July 1 will be “potentially difficult” and require slimming down of employees and programs. According to Morgan's presentation, MSU will face a starting budget deficit of $10-12 million next year. This cost includes the 6.25% state reductions, pension costs, and loss of tuition from international students from Saudi Arabia, among others. Through cost-cutting measures, that number has been slimmed down to $5 million or less.

“To date, over the past couple of months, we've cut the deficit for July 1 in half,” Morgan said.

Morgan said a task force is in place to analyze facility costs and make adjustments wherever necessary.

“We'll still be a strong university, no matter what adjustments we make,” Morgan said, emphasizing a need to focus budgetarily on the “core” focus of Morehead State.

Citing a need for a significant reduction in employment costs, Morgan announced a buyout plan for faculty and staff. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Morgan's goal is for 20 to 25 employees to go from full-time to part-time status.

Dental insurance will likely no longer be supplied to Morehead State employees.

“We're an extreme outlier,” Morgan explained. “If you can find another university in Kentucky that offers dental, we'll talk about keeping it. There's one, and they're probably going to do away with it.”

Morehead State will include a line in the budget for an “Earn to Learn” program, focused on employing students on campus. Morgan said this will help improve graduation and retention rates, key credit-earners in the upcoming performance-based funding model for higher education in Kentucky. In addition, he said Morehead State will make a “hard push for enrollment.”

Despite making strategic cuts on a case-by-case basis, Morgan said it will be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid whole unit elimination.

“I did not put that on the list. I want that to be last resort. But we'll probably have to look at some unit elimination.”