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MSU President Jay Morgan talked about the challenges faced by the university, as well as its resiliency. (Photo by Megan Smedley)

In his second convocation as president of Morehead State University, Dr. Jay Morgan spoke of the positive things happening at the university, despite recent obstacles.

“We know we live in a challenging environment, much of which is not under our control, but we have a whole lot to be appreciative of,” says Morgan. “We continue to be a strong university, and we continue to be very resilient.”

Morgan addressed the history of the university, and how the institution has always been able to overcome the hurdles it has faced.

“When you have good people, and good people working together, we can pull through,” he said.

He shared the current state of finances at the university, with a $152 million operating budget, $50 million in MSU foundation and endowment, over 800 full time employees and over 10,000 students.

“That’s the mark of a pretty successful university,” said Morgan. “Sure, we have our challenges, but let’s dwell on the positives.”

He noted stable enrollment, an opportunity to grow in retention, and a 38 percent growth in the number of students registered for the winter session this past term.

The occupancy rate for on-campus housing is at 89 percent, with 2,841 students living on campus.

“The more students you can get in your housing complex, the better it is for retention,” said Morgan.

Morgan also shared the strategic planning process is nearing conclusion, with 10 percent of the total campus being involved in the process.

Faculty and staff will have an opportunity to review the strategic plan and offer feedback later this month. It will be presented to the Board of Regents in February.

During his address, Morgan also announced recent changes in leadership.

Chris Howes was hired recently to serve as Chief Information Officer. Kim Oatman was hired as Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Operations.

MSU administration is actively searching for a Vice President for Student Affairs as well as a Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Morgan said although there will be a national search for the new provost, the university will not be using a search firm in the hiring process.

He said he hopes to have a new provost hired by April, so outgoing Provost Dr. Steven Ralston will be able to help the individual in the transition process.

Morgan also addressed the expected budget, and estimated reductions the university will face in the upcoming academic year.

“Most of our pain is not of our doing,” he said.

The projected budget for 2018-19 is $152 million. There is a general fixed cost increase at an estimated $500,000.

The cost the university will pay for pensions is estimated at $3.1 million and health care costs are at an estimated $1.6 million.

The university will also suffer from an expected double-digit budget reduction of state appropriations. If 10 percent is removed from the budget, it will be an estimated $4.1 million.

MSU also lost approximately $1.5 million with the loss of tuition from Saudi Arabian students.

Last March, Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission announced the relationship with Morehead State would close, affecting over 200 students.

“We have tried vigorously to try to revive that population, and as of today, we have been unsuccessful,” said Morgan.

Morgan says despite challenges, the university still continues to remain financially strong.

“Never before in the state of Kentucky have we had a new funding formula, a budget cut, and a 66 percent increase in pension costs, and we have all of those in 12 months that we are having to control for, and I think we have done a decent job so far,” he says.

Morgan also mentioned the push to raise money for scholarships, citing that scholarships often drive enrollment and gives the university a competitive edge.

As he closed his address, Morgan reiterated the resiliency of the university, providing a quote from Dr. Adron Doran, which alluded to a similar climate.

Morgan said, “We’ve been here before. Our university has seen some tough times, but we are still strong. All of us are going to be fine going forward.”

Megan Smedley can be reached at msmedley@themoreheadnews.com or by telephone at 784-4116.

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