PDT Staff Writer
Under Gov. John Kasich’s proposed $63.2 billion, two-year budget Shawnee State University would experience a 2.4 percent cut in state funding, while other state institutions receive increases.
State higher education funding rises overall in the budget’s first year, about 2 percent to $1.78 billion.
According to State Budget Director Tim Keen, one new element of the formula is that it will be based on average graduation figures over a three-year period, while past set-asides for certain campuses are being phased out.
Overall, five universities — seven branch campuses and five community colleges — are expected to receive cuts.
Shawnee State will see a 2.4 percent cut while Bowling Green’s decrease comes in at 4.2 percent. Central State will have a 2.1 percent cut and the universities of Akron and Toledo would see cuts of less than one percent.
“We appreciate the priority that the Governor has placed on higher education in the state and our role in economic development,” Dr. Rita Rice Morris, SSU President, said. “We believe that increasing the number of college graduates in Ohio, improving college graduation rates, and decreasing the time it takes to graduate is good for our students, our communities, and our state. Shawnee State serves a unique mission in our state. We were created to provide open access to higher education. We are committed to our mission, but it presents challenges in improving our graduation rates. That’s a challenge that our entire campus community, in partnership with the state, is focused on tackling.”
SSU released a fact sheet on the governor’s announcement and what it means to the university. The budget projections released are for the first year of the biennium in 2014, based on implementation of the new funding formula for higher education. This formula was developed by university presidents in the state and places greater emphasis on course and degree completion.
Because of Shawnee State University’s unique aspect of open access to higher education, the school is one of two public universities in the state that also receive a special supplement. This supplement remains unchanged for 2014.
It is still unclear what the impact will be to SSU in the second year of the biennium as the state is still working on several areas including possible weights for at risk students and how to treat proportional and partial degree credit.
In late 2012, the SSU Board of Trustees decided not to enact admission standards.
In 2010, SSU formed a task force to look at the issue of admission standards. The task force, chaired by Dr. Tim Hamilton, recommended to the board that freshmen applicants meet two of three criteria, before admission is granted to SSU.
Criteria included, achieving a minimum high school grade point average, achieving a minimum ACT composite test score and achieving a high school class rank in the upper two-thirds of their class.
About 60 percent of students attending Shawnee State University are eligible for federal tuition assistance; nearly four out of every five students identify themselves as first-generation college students; and about 40 percent of students who enroll at SSU require developmental courses.
SSU’s graduation rates recently got national attention. In October CBS MoneyWatch issued a report in which SSU was named as one of 50 state universities throughout the country with the best and worst graduation rates, over a six-year period. Unfortunately for SSU, it was not on the side of the list garnering praise.
According to the report, SSU made the worst list with a six-year graduation rate of 20.5 percent.
“We have been studying the factors that impact graduation rates for some time,” Morris said in a released statement, “And we have been developing strategies to help our students succeed and reach their goals, including graduation. As an open admission institution, it’s a challenge. Shawnee State University was created to provide open access to higher education for all in our region — and we are committed to that mission.”
Joining SSU on the CBS list was Vincennes University with a zero percent graduation rate, University of Houston-Downtown with a 12.4 percent graduation rate, Chicago State University with a 13.9 percent graduation rate, University of New Orleans with a 20 percent graduation rate, Texas Southern University with a 13.3 percent rate and many others.
This comes on the recent news that SSU would be calling back $1 million in budgeted funds in an effort to balance its budget.
“We were able to finalize our 15-day enrollment numbers and assess the impact of this year’s reduced enrollment upon our operating budget. The current year budget was developed with an assumption of zero percent increase in enrollment. The decrease in both fall and spring enrollment requires that we make mid-year adjustments in order stay within budget,” Morris said. “As a result of lower than anticipated enrollment in the fall, we adjusted class offerings for this spring semester to reflect actual enrollment, cancelled some planned non-compensation expenditures for the year, and began monitoring non-compensation spending to ensure that no unit would overspend its budgeted amount. Spring semester enrollment also did not meet projections with a 4.7 percent decrease and this situation requires that we take additional actions to keep within our approved budget for the year.”
Morris explained that she and other top university officials have ‘called back’ $1 million in budgeted funds.
“This ‘call back’ was done with the goal of not endangering our instruction and keeping current employees whole and will keep us within the FY13 budget. Because of our earlier cost containment efforts and the exceptional efforts of our budget managers, these cuts will not be felt by every unit within the University,” Morris said.
She said these efforts along with others will help the university in planning for next year’s budget.
“Given these, and other, unknowns I expect it will take a long time to develop a budget this year,” Morris said.
The governor’s budget will be presented to the Ohio legislature for consideration.
For more information about Shawnee State University and its many programs and activities visit, www.shawnee.edu.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org