The Student Newspaper of Murray State

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Board of Regents decides to remain in pension system

(Cady Stribling/The News)
(Cady Stribling/The News)

Gage Johnson
[email protected]

Cady Stribling
News Editor
[email protected]

The Board of Regents held a meeting on Friday, Dec. 4, via Zoom to discuss many topics including the KERS Nonhazardous pension system, fall enrollment and a revised mission statement and strategic plan.


COVID-19 Relief Funds

President Bob Jackson announced Gov. Andy Beshear is providing Murray State with at least an additional $1.01 million in relief funds to assist with costs incurred during the pandemic. Jackson said while this doesn’t fill the hole, it certainly helps.


KERS Nonhazardous Pension System

The board voted unanimously to continue to participate in the Kentucky Employees Retirement System Nonhazardous pension system. Jackson said choosing to leave the system would change the balance sheet for the University tremendously, resulting in $125 million in debt.

“All of us have talked about this over the last many months in a lot of detail,” Jackson said. “It’s a big decision. I would like to see us get out of KERS and be done with the risk that exists with that pension plan. However, I think and we think the risks of getting out are much greater than staying in.”

Jackson said the exact liability would be unknown until a decision was made to leave the pension system, impairing the University from taking on debt for other important areas like building renovations. Faculty Regent Don Tharpe agreed and said there was nothing jumping out at him to make leaving the pension plan an undeniable positive for employees at the University.

“It appears to me, if we made the decision to write that big check, that we would really be putting the University in a real bad position going forward,” Tharpe said. “I think future boards would have one question: ‘What drove them to make that decision?’ Because if we’re going to write a check that big, there should be compelling evidence of why we would do that and I don’t see a compelling reason to write a check that big.”



Despite challenges caused by COVID-19, Vice President of Academic Affairs Don Robertson said the University is feeling good about enrollment numbers for fall 2020.

“As you look at this and you compare where we were in fall 2019, first time freshman up almost six percent, first time transfers 23 percent, first time graduates over 15 percent, underrepresented minority students population up six percent,” Robertson said. “We’re down a little bit in undergraduate but up significantly in graduate.”

Robertson said even at a difficult year, the international student population also increased. For the winter term, 407 students registered compared to 344 students last year. As of Nov. 30, 538 students enrolled in the first ever holiday term.

The first to second year retention rate for the baccalaureate degree sequence for first time freshmen was 81.1 percent compared to 79 percent for fall 2019, Robertson said. First generation retention rate is at 72 percent this year compared to last year’s 81 percent.


Revised Mission Statement and Strategic Plan

The board unanimously approved the University’s revised mission statement and strategic plan. Provost Tim Todd said the mission statement and strategic plan must be approved together since the mission statement is included in the new strategic plan.

“One statement doesn’t necessarily, and it doesn’t, tell everything Murray State does, but we think the one statement we have come down to with consensus really encapsulates what our core purpose is and we’re proud of that,” Todd said.

Jackson said the revised mission statement is crisper, clearer and more succinct about who and what Murray State represents. Before being brought to the board, the statement went through multiple faculty and staff and student committees.

“This has been vetted and tweaked from the president’s council to the dean’s council to the chair’s council to Faculty Senate, Staff Congress, student government,” Todd said. “We’ve made a conscious effort to do that, as we should. That’s part of the concept of shared governance.”


Campus Project

The board voted unanimously for a Lovett Auditorium renovation and funding, which Director of Facilities Management Jason Youngblood described as somewhat of an emergency project identified as HVAC and electrical in nature.

“[There is] plaster damage from moisture in the building from HVAC systems,” Youngblood said. “Essentially, what will be done is our air handlers that are currently on the stage will be removed and a new air handler will be installed in the basement.”

Youngblood said they will also replace many components of Lovett’s electrical distribution like switchgear and transformers that are “well beyond their age” and in need of replacement. The renovations were described as phase one to preserve the building and is set to be completed by summer 2021.

Renovations to Lovett Auditorium will go to the Council of Postsecondary Education and the state for further approval.


Interim Report

Associate Provost Robert Pervine said the University is in the process of completing the fifth year interim report for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Reaffirmation of Institutional Accreditation. Pervine said he submitted the report in March 2020 and received a letter back in September with positive results. Pervine said they will complete a referral report due by April 2021.


Establishment Policy

The board unanimously voted to revise the board policy on fee establishments, allowing changes to be made to clarify the language used in the policy and broaden expenditures for teaching and learning purposes.

More to Discover