By Amy Dalrymple, INFORUM
Minnesota State University Moorhead President Edna Szymanski literally jumped for joy Tuesday. Szymanski was ecstatic to deliver news to faculty and staff during an all-university meeting that enrollment projections are up and fundraising last year was at a record high.
But not all of Szymanski’s updates prompted her to jump.
After solving one budget crisis, the university expects a continued decrease of state funding for at least 10 years. The worst-case scenario as the campus prepares for the 2012 biennium could mean the elimination of temporary positions.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else facing this challenge,” Szymanski said. “We’ve already demonstrated we can come together creatively and innovate.”
The hard work of the admissions and marketing staff is behind the projected enrollment increases for this fall, said Diane Solinger, vice president of enrollment management.
Preliminary enrollment at MSUM is up 4.4 percent over this time last year, and is expected to increase as students continue to register. Classes start Monday.
“What a great position to be standing in compared to where we were a year ago,” Solinger said.
The university is aiming for 8,000 students over the next five years, Szymanski said. Last fall’s headcount was 7,477.
The MSUM Alumni Foundation reported its best year ever, bringing in nearly $2.3 million in donations, a 55 percent increase over last year. About half of that went into endowments for student scholarships, said Joan Justesen, vice president of the foundation.
However, the foundation did not meet its goal of increasing student scholarships by 10 percent because the endowment fund declined about 18 percent due to the recession, Justesen said.
MSUM solved a 14 percent budget gap coming into the 2010 biennium by increasing revenues and decreasing expenses. Personnel costs have decreased by $1 million since a year ago, due to early retirements and positions that have not been filled.
“I know everybody’s tired because we have been working very hard,” Szymanski said.
Now planning for the 2012 biennium, MSUM expects a decline in state funding of $3.5 million to $7 million, said Jean Hollaar, interim vice president of finance and administration. The severity of the cut depends on how state leaders decide to balance the budget, Hollaar said.
MSUM is well positioned to handle the $3.5 million cut, but a greater cut could mean the elimination of adjunct faculty and other temporary positions, Hollaar said.
University Excellence Awards were also presented on Tuesday. The winners are:
Excellence in teaching: Chang-Seong Hong, associate professor of philosophy; Tim Piel, math professor.
Excellence in research and creative work: the MSUM theater department; George Holley, associate professor of anthropology; Lisa Nawrot, psychology professor.
Excellence in service to the university: Al Breuer, safety administrator; Jim Gemar, professor of health and physical education.
Excellence in service to the community: Olivia Melroe, psychology professor; Pam Kirk, associate professor of nursing and health.
Excellence in service to students: Kim Samson, bookstore supervisor.