Faculty Senate discusses strategies for budget crisis


Rebecca Turnbull

Board of Governors Chairman Michael Sellards urges the Faculty Senate Thursday to “fight for every single dollar” as Marshall University continues to develop strategies to continue addressing the budget crisis.

Marshall staff and faculty members are preparing for the development of next year’s budget in light of the recent PEIA cut and the impending approval of a state budget.
The PEIA Finance Board passed a $120 million cut Wednesday that decreased funding for state employees’ health insurance benefits.
Advisory Council of Faculty representative Marybeth Beller said the faculty senate has been fearing this cut since January.
Beller encouraged members of the faculty senate to alert legislators of the “absolutely devastating” effects the PEIA cut will have on Marshall faculty and staff through letters and phone calls.
Beller said members should contact leaders on social media in particular since social media sites provide a public platform of communication where leaders cannot deny having received a message or letter.
“If we’re silent, there is every incentive for legislators to let the PEIA cuts stand,” Beller said. “They have multiple demands; we’re just one. It’s pretty frightening.”
Beller said members should make their posts to social media before the primary elections May 10 since legislators are likely not to agree on a state budget until after the primary.
The postponed state budget agreement is also causing issues for Marshall’s fiscal situation, according to president Jerry Gilbert and several other leaders at Marshall.
Gilbert said the university cannot move forward until the state legislature approves a budget.
Chairman of the Board of Governors Michael Sellards said this problem has been getting more and more difficult to deal with.
“Every day the deficit appears to be getting worse and worse, the hole is deeper and deeper,” Sellards said. “With the seriousness of the budget issue in Charleston, everyone is going to be up there with elbows out, scurrying and trying to fight for every single dollar in that budget.”
Sellards said the faculty senate must put more effort into their involvement with the state’s budget process in order to meet Marshall’s needs.
“I can tell you the board will be there on behalf of the university, but you need to be there as well,” Sellards said. “I strongly suggest that you fight for every dollar that really belongs to higher education in the state and, more importantly, what belongs to Marshall University.”
In the meantime, Gilbert said he and his staff are working on contingency plans with Marshall’s chief financial officer Mary Ellen Heuton to build budgets depending on different scenarios.
Representative of the Senate’s Budget Working Group Carl Mummert said the group will plan a four percent reduction from this year’s university funds for the next fiscal year budget.
Mummert said this plan may change when the state budget is decided upon, but adjustments to Marshall’s budget will be made accordingly.
Mummert said the group hopes to have a draft of the budget plan into the Board by April 11.
The next faculty senate meeting is scheduled for April 14.
Rebecca Turnbull can be contacted at [email protected].