By Allen Palmeri
BOLIVAR—The passage of the largest budget in the history of Southwest Baptist University (SBU) marked the Oct. 20 trustees meeting at the Sells Administrative Center.
The budget of $43.85 million was dubbed “remarkable” in its complexity and efficiency. During an economic downturn when virtually all colleges and universities across the country are cutting back, SBU is still factoring in 5 percent pay raises. This budget marks the fourth year of a five-year plan to hike salaries a combined 25 percent.
“We had a really good enrollment on the Bolivar campus,” said SBU President C. Pat Taylor. “That drives it. That’s what enabled us to continue to do the 5 percent raise and do the other things that we needed to do and still balance the budget.”
Total head count has risen to 3,702, second only to the 1998 head count of 3,708. With the benchmark 1,600 figure on the Bolivar campus being exceeded by 16 students, the economic rubric is much more robust than when Taylor took over as president 13 years ago and trustees settled on a budget of just over $22 million.
“We are blessed,” Taylor said.
Gifts are up from $5.8 million a year ago to $6.15 million, and the university’s endowment, which plunged last year from around $18 million to $15 million, has crept back up above the $17 million mark.
The Missouri Baptist Convention allocates $1.35 million to SBU.
Never one to shy away from a fundraising challenge, Taylor took trustees over to Mabee Chapel to show them “probably the most outdated building on campus.” Of the 1,154 seats, only 1,120 are working, he said.
The chairs are more than 30 years old, with parts being taken from some to fix others. Some are “standing room only” in that they consist simply of backs; he illustrated this by pointing to three that are void of seats.
“I just wanted you to see it and realize this needs to be our next renovation project,” Taylor said, noting that it may take $1.25 million to get the job done.
The good early work of Interim Provost Bill Brown was also mentioned. Brown, dean of the Geneva Casebolt College of Music, Arts & Letters, came into the position Sept. 1. The university is still searching to fill the opening created by the retirement of longtime Provost Gordon Dutile.
In other action from the board meeting, trustees:
Approved a policy for gift acceptance;
Voted to allow themselves to sign up for one college class per semester with SBU paying for it, a policy which Taylor said is common at many universities;
Heard the presentation of a clean audit report with no major findings;
Said goodbye to three trustees—Mark Houston of Ft. Worth, Texas, Rick Hedger of Jefferson City, and Bob Killian of Springfield—who are rotating off the board, and;
Presented Trustee Don Fahrni of Russellville, who chaired the trustees for two years, with a plaque of appreciation.