Morehead State University is looking at a $7 million decrease in its operating budget for the 2019-2020 year.

The board of regents decided on the $140.3 million budget during the June 7 meeting, which is down from the $147.5 million budget of 2018-2019.

“We budgeted fairly conservatively. We admit that on the front end because we can’t afford to make mistakes,” said president of Morehead State University Dr. Jay Morgan.

Majority of the revenue is coming from tuition and fees and state appropriations. Tuition and fees dropped by 3.6% while state appropriations decreased by 1%.

The budget includes the increased pension cost of 84 cents to the dollar for all employees in the state pension system. Morgan said some position openings at the university have not been filled for that reason.

“What we have consciously done in working with the folks over here is we’ve tried to put some gentle holds on KERS positions,” said Morgan. “We need them. We need what they do. We just can’t afford to do it in the short term.”

Morgan said they are putting an increased focused on growing the number of first-time students coming to the university.

“Our focus has been … moving expenses out of the graduate area back to the undergraduate area,” said Morgan.

Like most universities across the commonwealth, MSU has seen a decline in graduate enrollment. Morgan attributed that to online programs that compete with MSU.

The expenditure for Student Financial Aid saw a reduction but Morgan said MSU gives out more aid as a percent of the budget compared to other universities.

“We can’t keep increasing that student final aid expenditure that’s why we’re trying to get more through Jim Shaw (Vice President of University Advancement),” said Morgan.

Morgan said they are looking at ways to apply the $9 million (17.5%) of the student financial aid section that would maximize student retention, in turn providing revenue that could yield the operations.

Faculty Regent Dr. Jonathan Pidluzny was encouraged by some of the budget breakdown despite increased cuts.

“These numbers were going in the wrong direction for several years,” said Pidluzny. “These are the first two years that we are actually proportionate. We are spending fewer dollars on instruction because of the severity of the cuts but we are spending proportionately more on instruction, which is encouraging.”

The recently renovated Adron Doran University Center (ADUC) is costing an additional $724,862 in utilities expenses. The university projects utility costs for the campus will be approximately $1.2 million in the next year.

“We’ve got seven restaurants that’s the big thing. We have a lot of usage in the food service side,” said Kim Oatman, Assistant Vice President Facilities & Operations. “We are trying to be pretty conservative in these estimates. I think we’re going to be high on that, but I would rather be high than low.”

The board confirmed a supplemental compensation of $400 for full-time unrestricted employees.

“The supplement is being recommended to try to provide some type of financial recognition to employees who are with us on a continual basis,” said Morgan in an email to faculty and staff.

The board unanimously recognized Morgan’s efforts for the university during such a hard-economic time. Morgan renewed his contract for another year, extending it to 2023.

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