MU waits to hear Senate decision on budget proposal

The Board of Curators also voted to extend Mike Anderson's contract.

If the Missouri Senate passes Gov. Jay Nixon's higher education budget recommendation, MU's tuition will see no increase for the 2009-2010 year.

At a meeting April 3 at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, the UM system Board of Curators voted not to increase tuition for next school year. The curators also voted to increase fees by about $15.

The board's decision is contingent on the Senate's approval of Nixon's budget proposal, which the House already passed.

The decision was part of a deal with Nixon. In exchange for the university keeping tuition at the 2009 level, Nixon promised to recommend no cuts to the higher education budget for the next fiscal year.

"These are important steps to turning the economy around," Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said. "Gov. Nixon appreciates the leadership of the Board of Curators to ensure University of Missouri students and families won't be paying more for tuition next year."

At a press conference held immediately after the board's executive session, UM system President Gary Forsee said he expects the budget to pass through the Senate.

"At this time I have a fair amount of confidence the governor will convey to the Senate to protect our funding level that will allow us to hold up our end of the bargain," Forsee said. "There's no reason we wouldn't expect things to not pass at the Senate level."

In the event there are cuts to higher education funding, Forsee said the university has taken precautionary steps to constrain expenses.

"We have 545 open positions today," Forsee said. "So we're doing whatever we can to hold back and accrue savings in case the economy doesn't turn around."

Forsee said with the money-saving measures already in place, the university could operate in 2010 if there were higher education funding cuts.

"We have built up, if you will, a reserve," he said.

The board also approved a seven-year contract with basketball coach Mike Anderson.

"We are excited coach Anderson is going to be at the University of Missouri for a long time," Athletic Director Mike Alden said in a March 31 news release. "He's done a tremendous job rebuilding our basketball tradition and is poised to lead our program to new heights in the coming years."

Forsee said the board passed Anderson's contract unanimously. The seven-year contract allows for a $1.35 million annual salary, Forsee said. Anderson's previous salary was $855,000 annually.

"We had a program that is doing it right the way," Forsee said. "We have a coach that is incredibly well respected. He wants to make the university his home for a long period."

Forsee said the university's athletic budget is about $60 million, but a very small amount of that comes from state funding.

"It receives $2.2 million from the system, a bulk of which is to provide debt service," Forsee said.

Anderson's salary largely comes from the athletic department's revenue from ticket and merchandise sales, Forsee said, so his raise is not related to the UM system's hiring freeze and budget shortfalls.

Forsee said Anderson's contract benefits both the university and the state.

"When you have a coach that's performing in a program that has significantly improved, then you want to do what you can to keep your own," Forsee said. "Whether it's a well performing coach or faculty member, we've got to find a way to support them."

To retain and recruit faculty, the university's spending should allow for a funding reserve, Forsee said.

"We shouldn't run our budget so tight we can't do this," he said.

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