Jobs and Programs Under the Gun at UW
Budget cuts at the University of Wyoming target at least 70 vacant positions as part of a plan to reduce ongoing spending by roughly $19 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
No layoffs are planned in the first year of cuts, but the university will likely eliminate programs in order to reduce annual spending by another $10 million for the following fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017. The plan calls for the university to identify program cuts by the end of the summer.
For the next fiscal year, the university plans to eliminate overtime and overload pay, severely limit temporary faculty appointments, offer a retirement incentive to some longtime employees and standardize the teaching load for faculty members. UW also plans to address immediate needs by reallocating about $6 million from reserve accounts, unspent salary funding and a voluntary program reducing summer hours for certain full-time employees to 32 hours.
“These changes will not be easy, but I am confident that we will emerge from this experience as, in many respects, an even stronger institution,” says Dr. Laurie Nichols, the new UW president.
Nichols outlined the administration’s approach to budget cuts at a town-hall meeting with UW employees and students on campus Wednesday. The UW Board of Trustees is set to consider the proposal during a special meeting June 15.
The cuts are the result of a smaller UW block grant from the state after legislators slashed funding for state agencies during the 2016 budget session.
UW faces a loss of nearly $41 million in state funding for the biennium beginning July 1. The new financial and reporting system, increased utility expenses and other needs will force the university to reallocate money internally, bringing the total amount of necessary cuts to over $50 million.
According to a UW news release, units across campus have already found $7 million in cuts for the coming fiscal year based on allocations from the administration when the Wyoming Legislature mandated a 1.5 percent cut during the budget session. Shortly thereafter, Gov. Matt Mead called for UW’s state appropriation to be reduced by $35 million for the 2017-2018 biennium.
“We don’t have enough time to be extremely strategic in reducing ongoing expenses for the fiscal year that starts July 1, but we believe that this plan will get us where we need to be,” says Nichols. “It does appear we will be able to make this first round of reductions without employee layoffs, and that is certainly a positive.”
In addition to program cuts – set to be announced following the conclusion of the program review process already underway – other potential cost savings for the fiscal year beginning in 2017 could require eliminating or combing non-essential services and programs, moving as many positions as possible to nine- or 10-month contracts, reorganizing academic and non-academic units, reviewing all administrative appointments as well as opportunities to cut staff or task frequency, and looking at ways of outsourcing some UW operations.
The university will also pursue new revenue sources into the future through a plan to fully utilize private endowment and gift dollars, a plan for program fees and differentiated tuition for high-cost programs and attempts to enroll more nonresident students.
UW will also look at developing a merit salary policy and a plan for managing salary increases, as well as relying less on state funding and diversifying revenue sources as part of a long-term strategic plan which also includes higher fiscal performance.
“Budget reductions of this magnitude are never easy or popular. I completely understand the concerns across campus about the potential impacts of reductions,” Nichols says. “But, I also know that it is possible for an institution to go through significant reductions, yet retain strengths, and become more strategic and innovative in thinking. I am committed to making sure that is the case for UW.”