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Gov. Matt Mead is recommending a 6 percent budget reduction for the University of Wyoming in the 2013-14 fiscal year, less than the 8 percent he had asked UW to prepare for but still a significant cut.
Meanwhile, the governor’s supplemental budget recommendations call for UW to receive one-time funding for a major upgrade of its College of Engineering and Applied Science facilities, and some recurring dollars for employee pay raises.
“We appreciate the fact that the governor is recommending a smaller cut for the university than some other parts of state government,” UW President Tom Buchanan says. “A 6 percent reduction certainly won’t be achieved without some pain, but we’re also grateful to the governor for his commitment to major improvement of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and his recognition that university employees are deserving of a merit pay increase after four years of no raises. We hope those investments will remain through the legislative process.”
The governor’s proposed budget, which now goes to the Legislature, calls for a one-time appropriation of $70 million for College of Engineering and Applied Science facilities. That amount -- combined with a $30 million appropriation last year and $15 million in private fundraising -- would provide UW with $115 million for the project that promises to be the largest in the university’s history.
UW has been working with the Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force to begin planning for programmatic improvements in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. That’s in accordance with legislative ambitions for UW to become a "tier one academic and research institution,” including a major upgrade in facilities.
In its supplemental budget request, the UW Board of Trustees had sought $5 million for employee pay raises. The governor recommended a recurring appropriation of just under $2.4 million for merit-based increases.
“In order to retain our top faculty and staff members, and to recruit high performers, we need to offer nationally competitive salaries,” Buchanan says. “We appreciate the governor’s recommendation as a first step toward meeting that objective.”
Buchanan says pay raises are particularly important in light of the governor’s recommended 6 percent budget reduction for UW. The university has begun holding some positions open to prepare for the cuts, and it has begun preparing to reduce non-personnel expenses by up to 14 percent.
“Not having to cut by the full 8 percent would allow us to retain more positions than otherwise would have been the case, but we will still have to continue to reduce our workforce through attrition,” Buchanan says. “That means our remaining employees will be working harder than ever so that we preserve, to the maximum extent possible, our core educational mission and UW's academic quality and stature.”
The governor also indicated that the budgets for UW’s School of Energy Resources, and for the physician and dental education programs administered by UW, would not be cut by the full 8 percent under his recommendations.
With the governor’s plan for a 6 percent budget cut for UW’s general state block grant, Buchanan says the steps already taken to prepare for cuts will continue. The fact that UW receives the vast majority of its operational funding in the form of a block grant provides the university with the flexibility it needs to respond to such a reduction, he says.
"We're proud of and thankful for the support we receive from the citizens of Wyoming and our elected officials,” Buchanan says. “We remain committed to delivering opportunities for students, preparing a workforce for the future, and conducting research to help drive the state's economy."