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UW to Eliminate Positions of 37 Current Employees

May 15, 2017

The positions of 37 current employees of the University of Wyoming will be eliminated as of June 30, part of UW’s response to a loss of $42 million in state funding for the current biennium.

The affected employees are being notified this week and advised of their rights under UW’s retrenchment policy, as well as other applicable state and federal laws.

“These layoffs are an unfortunate but necessary step for the university to meet its required reductions,” President Laurie Nichols says. “To this point, we have managed to reduce UW’s workforce by about 332 positions through attrition and separation incentives, but we must take this additional action to realize the savings necessitated by the reduction in our state block grant.”

The affected employees work under UW’s Office of Information Technology (15), the Office of Academic Affairs (12), the Division of Administration (five), the Division of Student Affairs (three), the Office of Governmental and Community Affairs (one) and at large (one).

Annual savings to be realized through this reduction in force total $3.02 million, including employee benefits. Individual campus units are working to absorb the duties currently handled by these positions. In some cases, this involves consolidations or restructuring aimed at driving efficiency by eliminating duplication.

The layoffs are part of a total of $5.91 million in annual reductions allocated to units across campus for the 2017-18 fiscal year: Academic Affairs ($2.05 million), the Division of Administration ($1.31 million), the Department of Athletics ($1 million), the Division of Student Affairs ($300,000), the Office of General Counsel ($215,000), the President’s Office ($191,337), the UW Foundation ($281,767), the Office of Research and Economic Development ($80,532), and the Office of Governmental and Community Affairs ($100,019). The Office of Information Technology’s allocation of a $500,000 cut has been augmented with an expectation of an additional $633,385 in savings from campus IT consolidation.

The consolidation of IT positions that had been scattered across campus units into the Office of Information Technology is one of the changes made in response to Nichols’ directive to streamline the university’s administrative and organizational structures.

Another is the assimilation of the functions of the UW Outreach School into academic and other units across campus. That includes the movement of UW’s branch campus in Casper and its regional centers around the state under one administrative structure in Casper with a reporting line to Provost Kate Miller. This centralized “hub” from Casper can better assist with service to the state and community colleges for program delivery, marketing and advising.

The allocations that resulted in the layoffs are part of approximately $10 million in permanent reductions and internal reallocations previously approved by the Board of Trustees for FY 2018. Another component is UW’s Voluntary Separation Incentive Program for some longtime faculty members, which has resulted in 44 vacancies. From these positions, $2 million will be saved permanently, with the remainder of savings going to the Office of Academic Affairs to refill positions deemed critical for the university. Also part of the FY 2018 reductions are elimination of about 12 open faculty and academic professional vacancies ($750,000); and $1.8 million in savings from operational changes, including $335,000 in UW’s procurement operations, $300,000 in the optional long-term disability program for employees, and $75,000 by downsizing UW’s vehicle fleet.

The budget reductions are a result of a drop in the university’s state block grant, driven by Wyoming’s economic downturn and loss of state government revenue. For the biennium that began July 1, 2016, UW has lost about $42 million in state funding.

About $19.3 million in reductions were implemented in 2016 for the current fiscal year, to be carried through the second year of the biennium and beyond. They were achieved largely through the elimination of 102 vacant positions ($6 million), hiring fewer part-time and adjunct instructors ($2.7 million) and across-the-board cuts ($7 million). An earlier retirement and separation incentive produced about 50 staff and faculty vacancies, saving a total of about $7 million over the biennium.

No additional reduction-in-force action is planned for UW’s workforce, although the university will continue to look for ways to become more efficient, Nichols says.

“We are very hopeful that the decline in state revenues has leveled off, and that lawmakers and the governor will not require further reductions by the university,” the president says. “In the meantime, we will move forward with our strategic planning effort as a leaner and more focused institution, with an eye on becoming more financially self-sufficient.”

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