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Published November 18, 2016
The University of Wyoming will eliminate about a dozen vacant positions, offer another separation incentive for longtime faculty members, achieve further efficiencies in operations and distribute additional reductions across campus units under a plan approved this week by the UW Board of Trustees.
The reduction plan for the 2017-18 fiscal year was crafted by President Laurie Nichols in consultation with the university’s Financial Crisis Advisory Committee. It will result in about $10 million in permanent reductions and internal reallocations to UW’s operating budget, on top of a $19.3 million reduction implemented in the current fiscal year.
“We believe we will achieve the necessary reductions in the state block grant without impeding the ability of the university to fulfill its core mission of quality education for our students, and research and service to benefit the state,” Nichols says. “This plan maintains UW’s status as an outstanding academic institution dedicated to the education and success of our students. In addition, we address a structural deficit in the utilities budget and cover the annual costs of a new software system.”
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. In the biennium that began July 1, UW has lost $41 million in state funding.
The reductions implemented for the current fiscal year -- to be carried through the second year of the biennium and beyond -- 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). A retirement and separation incentive, which produced about 50 additional staff and faculty vacancies, is expected to save a total of $7 million over the biennium.
Under the new plan for FY 2018, another separation incentive will be offered, this one targeting faculty members with at least 20 years’ service. The goal is $4 million in savings, with $2 million of that returned to the Office of Academic Affairs for hiring new faculty members in high-priority areas.
In addition, about 12 faculty and staff vacancies that have come open since the FY 2017 reductions will be eliminated, saving an estimated $750,000.
A total of just under $6 million will be cut through allocations to units across campus: Academic Affairs ($2.05 million), the Division of Administration ($1.31 million), the Department of Athletics ($1 million), Information Technology ($500,000), the Division of Student Affairs ($300,000), the Office of General Counsel ($215,000), the President’s Office ($191,340), the UW Foundation ($175,000), the Office of Research and Economic Development ($80,532) and the Office of Governmental and Community Affairs ($100,000).
The Academic Affairs reduction breaks down to $475,000 for the College of Arts and Sciences, $350,000 for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, $150,000 for the College of Business, $110,000 for the College of Education, $125,000 for the College of Engineering and Applied Science, $150,000 for the College of Health Sciences, $75,000 for the College of Law, $500,000 for the Outreach School and $110,000 for UW Libraries.
A separate plan released earlier to eliminate 15 UW academic degree programs is expected to generate some savings, but that amount has not been determined -- and is not part of the FY 2018 budget reduction plan.
The FY 2018 plan also includes a projected $1.58 million in savings on UW operational expenses based upon recommendations from Huron Consulting Group, which conducted a comprehensive review of UW’s administrative functions. That includes $630,000 from consolidation of campus information technology functions; $335,000 in UW’s procurement operations; and $275,000 from changes in Student Health Service staffing.
Separate from the financial crisis plan, program fees for high-cost academic programs, similar to most of UW’s peer institutions, are being explored. Trustees did not act on that proposal during the November meeting.