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May 6, 2013 — The University of Wyoming has eliminated 54 faculty and staff positions as part of its plan to meet a 6 percent reduction in state funding. University officials say they can accommodate the remainder of the budget reduction without eliminating even more positions, by reducing non-personnel support budgets and scholarships.
But the central position management process created to meet the state-mandated budget reductions through carefully managed attrition will remain in place to assure the most efficient use of UW staff resources in line with university priorities.
UW is in the process of reducing its operating budget by $11.8 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, as a result of a 6 percent reduction ordered by the governor and the Wyoming State Legislature. That amount is less than a $15.7 million, or 8 percent reduction, the university had been told last year to prepare for.
The $11.8 million reduction includes a $5.7 million cut in UW support budgets, $3.1 million in personnel costs, $2.4 million in scholarships and graduate education expenses, and $600,000 from the School of Energy Resources.
UW began staff and faculty reductions through attrition last year, to avoid layoffs starting July 1. An 8 percent budget cut would have required the elimination of more than 100 positions. But UW President Tom Buchanan says the cuts made to date are sufficient under the 6 percent reduction.
“Each of these eliminated positions represents a loss of the university’s capacity to accomplish its mission, so we’re glad there’s no need for further reductions,” Buchanan says. “We have tried to minimize the impact of cuts on students and our core academic mission, but it’s impossible to make a 6 percent reduction without impacting our teaching, research, service and outreach. The effects of the cuts also will take the form of reduced effectiveness in instructional support, reduced student services and reduced capacity to maintain the physical plant.”
UW’s Office of Academic Affairs last summer used the existing faculty position management process to hold in reserve about $1.4 million in annual faculty and academic professional salaries and benefits vacated in the 2012 fiscal year. That amount equates to 12 unfilled faculty positions.
Academic positions at UW have been managed through a centralized process for more than a decade, allowing Academic Affairs to direct freed-up resources to the most pressing needs and strategic directions across academic units. A similar approach was implemented last year for non-academic staff positions.
Last October, in the first of a series of quarterly meetings to strategically eliminate some vacant non-academic staff positions, UW’s vice presidents reviewed 84 vacant jobs and identified 28 of those positions to hold open. The second quarterly meeting on Jan. 10 resulted in a reduction of 14 additional staff positions. Together, the loss of the 42 non-academic positions will save the university about $1.7 million annually.
While not replacing some employees who resign or retire made it possible to avoid layoffs, the down side of relying upon attrition is that some campus units have taken larger hits than others, Buchanan says. Continuation of a staff position management process will involve quarterly meetings of vice presidents to redistribute some of these impacts, if necessary, and to reallocate the pool created by vacant positions. This process will help assure that resources are directed toward the university’s highest needs and priorities, on an ongoing basis.
The central position management process is outlined in a document found here: http://www.uwyo.edu/acadaffairs/_files/docs/staff_cpm.pdf.
“There remains a need for this team effort to review vacancies across all campus units,” Buchanan says. “This document describes the principles and process of how the university will continue with a centralized approach.”
Even as they make final preparations to absorb the 6 percent reduction for the fiscal year beginning July 1, university officials have begun discussions for UW’s state budget proposal for the biennium that starts July 1, 2014. In light of the fact that UW employees have not received salary adjustments in four years, finding money for pay raises is the top priority as those budget discussions get started.
More information about the university budget process can be found on the UW website at http://www.uwyo.edu/acadaffairs/plans/budget/.