Multiple changes to come after Board of Regents meeting

Story by Brianna Hunter and Nick Kendall

Contributing writers

The 2018-19 school year has been historic for the University, and there’s a busy future ahead after the results of the June 7 Board of Regents meeting.

Accomplishments in Sports

Athletic Director Kevin Saal opened the floor by reviewing the accomplishments in sports. Saal praised multiple coaches and student-athletes on their achievements. The fishing team won a national championship on June 6. Multiple employment contract amendments were made for numerous coaches, such as softball Head Coach Kara Amundson and women’s tennis Head Coach Jorge Caetano, both with two-year extensions.

Saal showed a highlight video to the Board. After the video, Saal and fellow coaches presented the departing members, J.T. Payne and Katherine Farmer, and the chair, Susan Guess, with jerseys. After the presentation of the jerseys, Guess gave a gratitude speech.

The President’s Report

President Bob Jackson emphasized the need to improve marketing and recruitment efforts, student enhancements, summer projects and academic programs. He mentioned an important aspect of recruitment, helping students who haven’t decided on their major. Student enhancements included adding more food options to campus, such as Chick-Fil-A, Einstein Bros. Bagels and more restaurants.

As for the buildings and grounds of the University, the Curris Center will have some improvements this summer and Woods Hall will become Woods Park.

Improvement in Recruitment, Retention, and Marketing

The Stamats Review involved many enhancements to the marketing and recruitment efforts of the University. Director of Communications Shawn Touney and Stamats Representative Greg Caroll said that two studies were conducted about how future students discover the University and the results of both studies pointed to the internet. When parents help their children decide on a university, the university should present itself boldly enough to influence both parties.

One thing future students look for when choosing a university is career services. Keeping a greater emphasis on career services, it directly benefits students by helping with resume writing, salary negotiation, professional dress and so much more to help prepare them for their future career outcomes and internships. Graduates tend to find a job within one year; so to make it easier for future Racers, admissions and career services are pulling together intentionally.  

Establishment of New Centers and Programs

Action was also taken on the establishment of two new centers, the Center for Computer and Information Technology and the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Both centers were passed and will be established in the future.

Three new degree programs were also passed: Bachelor of Arts in Culture and Languages, Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Human Services and Master of Science in Cybersecurity was also passed.

Audit and Compliance

University President Bob Jackson’s recruitment trips was the next topic of discussion. He has handled the University’s money responsibly according to the Board, as he had no issues on travel expenses.

Curris Center Thoroughbred Room Program Statement

Costly renovations will be made to the T-Room to accommodate the new Steak ’n Shake that’s expected to open in spring 2020. This is another of the many restaurants to open in the Curris Center. The completion of all projects in the Center will cost around $3 to $4 million.

Luckett and Farley Housing Plan

The oldest dorms, Springer Hall, Old Richmond, Regents Hall and White Hall were the focus of the housing plan update. All the common areas of the dorm suites are smaller than the national average. The dorms also have issues with being too small, so to meet this national trend, all the listed dorms would have to lose out on 20 to 24 rooms to enlarge the existing ones, if they decide to renovate. The cost of renovation would be about $18 to $23 million for each dorm and the cost of replacing the dorms would be about $15 to $29 million. This part of the meeting was only for informational purposes so there was no vote on what to do with the dorms.

To make all of these projects happen, the board was also given information about third-party financing. The model the University will try is the leasing of the land to private partners to finance, build, own, operate and eventually transfer the building back to the University. This model is at other schools such as the University of Kentucky, Arkansas State and many more.

Preliminary Fall 2019 Enrollment Report

President Jackson made it a point to focus on education, recruitment and retention of students after learning that 46.1 percent of minority applicants of the President’s Commision on Student Success with a 3.0 GPA or higher were turned down because of low ACT scores. The Board spent time reviewing recruitment tactics, the scholarship process and retention initiatives. The University will also focus more on high school GPA instead of ACT or SAT scores when thinking about admitting a student. The Board knows there are intelligent kids who have difficulties taking tests and they believe that those students shouldn’t have to miss out on a college opportunity because of a standardized test.

The Board was pleased to learn that as of May 31, 6,775 students had been admitted to Murray State, 1,401 first time freshmen had signed up for Summer Orientation and 1,121 student had applied for housing.

Racer Academy was also an important topic to the Board as research showed that many students who were accepted to Murray State participated in Racer Academy. The research also showed that many Racer Academy participants go to WKCTC for two years, then transfer to Murray State instead of going to Murray State all four years. The Board plans to find new ways to encourage students to come straight to the University.

One of those new ways is the MyMajors website. Created on June 3, MyMajors helps all students decide what major is best for them. All the student has to do is create an account and then there are a couple of questions for them to answer based on their interests. Using their responses, the site finds the best ten majors that may be right for them.

Student Health Services Update Report

Student health services wants to make themselves known to students and faculty. They offer After Hour access, 24/7 on-call physicians, a new health services app is also in the works that lets students interact with medical staff. If the student doesn’t have insurance they’ll pay a $65 fee per visit. Health Services makes it a point to make sure everyone is taken care of. It was announced at the end of the school year that Primary Care Medical Center would take over health services from Fast Pace.

2019-20 University Budget Summary

The Murray State University Board of Regents approved a $152 million budget that funds a 1 percent cost of living adjustment increase for faculty and staff. It also includes the last step in the compensation adjustment for non-exempt staff to reach $10.10 per hour. The budget goes into effect July 1. About $7 million less than last year’s budget primarily because of revenue from dining being lost due to the partnership with Sodexo. There’s just over $900,000 in appropriations, $5 million in tuition and mandatory fees and $1.2 million in operations.

Non-Resident Tuition Model Revisions

The Board also discussed new tuition rates. The price of tuition has gone up one percent from last year to $4,584. They also decided to make Mississippi part of the recruitment region, those students will now pay the regional tuition rate. The Board decided to keep the price of tuition for border counties the same as the rate for Kentucky students.

Kentucky Employees Retirement  System (KERS) Contingency Plan

The Board voted on having President Jackson use the general fund reserves for the Retirement Contingency Plan.

2019-20 Election of Officers

Because of the retirement of Regents Guess, Farmer and Payne, Richard Kemp was elected as the new chair of the Board of Regents and Jerry Rhoads was elected new vice chair of the Board of Regents.