Presidential renovations, celebrations and search came at high cost to MSU

Editor’s note: This is part of the first installment in the MSU Presidents Project, a series examining MSU Texas from the short tenure of former President JuliAnn Mazachek that ended a year ago to the direction the university is heading under new President Stacia Haynie. The next installment will be available Wednesday.

MSU Texas forked out over $13,000 for things like flowers, food and balloons for then-President JuliAnn Mazachek’s investiture in late 2022 — enough to pay for over a year of full-time classes for most MSU students.

Two months later, Mazachek was gone.

All told, certain expenses related to Mazachek and finding her replacement added up to over $170,000 for MSU.

Figures relating to these expenses, in addition to contracts, were obtained via open records requests submitted by the Times Record News.

Budget struggles, job cuts at Midwestern State University

As MSU stares down a budgetary crisis, deep cuts are taking effect across the university. Ten university employees received the news they would be losing their jobs as the school announced the closure of the MSU Print Shop and MSU Testing Center, as well as the restructuring of the Vinson Health Center.

Financial concerns have led to an air of caution on campus toward new expenditures.

Julie Gaynor, marketing and information director, said the university’s financial focus is on helping students succeed while administrators work to right the ship.

“Currently, President Haynie’s focus is in providing access and success for our students. Those goals happen through many avenues, and they do direct our spending as it relates to the needs of our students,” Gaynor said in an emailed statement.

These cuts have come during new President Stacia Haynie’s time as she seeks to stabilize the finances of the university she previously attended. Before Haynie, MSU spent much of the prior two years under interim leadership and seven months under a permanent president who left after only leading the school for one full semester.

Mazachek became president in May of 2022 and left the university in January 2023. During that time, MSU enrollment and finances both needed to be addressed. While Mazachek worked behind the scenes on those things, the school racked up expenses.

Sikes House, the official residence of the MSU Texas president, was constructed between July 1939 and November 1940 by oilman and rancher Louis Sikes, and wife Glenna. The house has handcrafted woodwork and striking features such as a staircase noted for its ironwork. MSU bought the house from the Sikes in 1971.
Sikes House, the official residence of the MSU Texas president, was constructed between July 1939 and November 1940 by oilman and rancher Louis Sikes, and wife Glenna. The house has handcrafted woodwork and striking features such as a staircase noted for its ironwork. MSU bought the house from the Sikes in 1971.

The price of pomp

Just over two months before Mazachek’s sudden departure, she was at the absolute forefront of the university. On Nov. 3, 2022, she had an investiture ceremony, a formality for high-ranking officials and an opportunity for faculty and students to celebrate their leader.

Flowers and maroon and gold balloons decorated the scene, along with a spread of food. The investiture itself featured a brass quintet and professional photography, setting a scene of pomp and high academia.

The total price tag for the ceremony was about $17,496.

Planning, food, balloons, rentals, servers and flowers all came from one vendor and racked up the bulk of the bill at a little over $13,000.

Almost $2,000 more went to invitations and programs. Over $1,600 went to commemorative keychains. The rest of the expense went to musicians, photography and the MSU Print Shop.

The print shop closed Jan. 1 to lower university costs.

Gaynor said there are no plans for an investiture for Haynie.

“At an institution the size of MSU Texas, leadership must always be mindful of how to approach spending,” Gaynor said.

More: MSU Presidents Project: What is the cost of finding a new university president?

More: MSU Presidents Project: A timeline of leadership and where it has left MSU Texas

The tab for renovations to historic MSU president's house and office

As Mazachek settled into the job, the university paid to upgrade certain amenities, including renovations in the president’s office and the Sikes House, the official home of the president of MSU.

Redoing the carpet alone in the president’s office eclipsed the cost of the investiture, checking in at $21,287. Carpet in the Sikes House cost another $8,570.

Another $23,584 went to furnishings in the president's office, including a television, teleconference setup, table, chairs, desk and credenza.


Mazachek said in an email statement that she and other administrators had begun work on budget concerns in her time there.

“We were in the early stages of budget planning, reviewing operations, space utilization and strategic planning. Some monies were spent on critical maintenance issues including a sewer repair project at Sikes House and limited carpet replacement,” Mazachek said.

The Texas Tech University System provided a statement that did not directly respond to questions about the costs or their impact on MSU finances.

Surpassing even the combined cost of the investiture and renovations was the price tag to replace Mazachek with Haynie — a search process that ran into six-figure territory.

Haynie and Mazachek received largely identical contracts from MSU with only a few differences in pay scale and benefits. One small change, however, comes from section VII of the contracts. After setting out that the president is expected to live in the Sikes House during their tenure, Mazachek and Haynie’s contracts differ.

Mazachek’s read: “All utilities, maintenance, and other costs associated with the maintenance of the MSU President’s Residence are the responsibility of MSU.”

Haynie’s carries the same assumption of responsibility by MSU with one added caveat: “As a historic and public home, special considerations must be taken before making significant renovations and changes to furnishings at the Sikes House. Significant changes will need to be coordinated and signed off through the Chancellor or his designee.”

Cecil Witherspoon is a freelance writer and former intern for the Times Record News. He is a student at Midwestern State University.

This article originally appeared on Wichita Falls Times Record News: Taxpayers got tab for expenses related to ex-MSU President Mazachek