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Committee Named to Consult with President on UW Financial Plan

June 22, 2016

A 13-member committee representing University of Wyoming administrators, faculty, staff and students has been appointed to consult with UW President Laurie Nichols in preparing a plan to further reduce spending in the 2018 fiscal year.

The members of the Financial Crisis Advisory Committee (FCAC) are: Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs David Jones, to be succeeded by Kate Miller Aug. 1; Vice President for Administration Bill Mai; Outreach School Dean Susan Frye; College of Law Dean Klint Alexander; Associate Professor Robert Sprague, in the Department of Management and Marketing; Professor Donal O’Toole, in the Department of Veterinary Sciences; Professor Stephen Bieber, director of the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center; Molly Marcusse, assistant archivist at the American Heritage Center; Professor Frederic Sterbenz, in the Department of Economics and Finance; Professor R. McGreggor Cawley, in the Department of Political Science; Kevin Colman, bus driver in UW Transit and Parking Services; Rachel Stevens, office associate, senior, in the School of Pharmacy; and Associated Students of UW representative Joel Defebaugh.

Creation of the committee was triggered by Nichols’ declaration of a financial crisis under UW regulations. After acting to make cuts and internal reallocations totaling about $26 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1, the university is taking steps to reduce spending by at least another $10 million in the following fiscal year that begins July 1, 2017.

After consulting with the FCAC, Nichols plans to present a plan for the 2018 fiscal year to the UW Board of Trustees in October.

The FCAC’s first meeting will take place Tuesday, June 28, from 7:30-9 a.m. in the Old Main board room. Subsequent meetings are expected through the summer. The meetings will be open to the public, with the exception of executive sessions to consider matters such as individual position cuts.

Nichols plans to present a plan, with input from the committee, to the FCAC by Sept. 7; the committee members then will review it, and solicit and assemble comments from their constituents, to present to the president by Oct. 6. Nichols expects to present the final plan to the Board of Trustees by Oct. 11 for action Oct. 19.

The financial crisis declaration makes it possible to reduce or eliminate academic and non-academic programs over the next year, based on reviews taking place this summer. Nichols says she doesn’t intend to declare a financial exigency, which denotes a financial crisis so severe that the termination of positions held by tenured faculty members is required. Before submitting such a request, she would have to inform the FCAC.

No decisions have been made about reducing or eliminating specific academic programs, Nichols says. But the program review process that began this spring is continuing, focused on the undergraduate programs with fewer than 25 graduates over a five-year period, and the master’s degree programs with fewer than 15 graduates over a five-year period. Additional review will be performed on undergraduate programs with 25-50 graduates over a five-year period, and master’s degree programs with 15-25 graduates.

Non-academic programs also are under review.

Other potential cost savings starting in the 2018 fiscal year will come from reviewing all administrative appointments; analyzing all positions and moving as many as possible to nine- or 10-month contracts; studying opportunities to reduce staffing levels or task frequency; and evaluating opportunities to outsource some UW operations.

At the same time, the president’s overall plan calls for the pursuit of new revenues for the second year of the biennium and beyond. That could be done by developing a plan to fully utilize private endowment and gift dollars; developing a plan for program fees and differentiated tuition for high-cost programs; and increasing enrollment of nonresident students.

The 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 begins July 1, UW faces a loss of nearly $41 million in state funding. In addition, the university needs to reallocate dollars internally to cover costs related to a new financial and reporting system, increased utility expenses and other needs. For the biennium, that brings the total of necessary reductions to more than $50 million.

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