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UW Financial Advisory Committee Taps Bieber as Chair

June 29, 2016

Longtime University of Wyoming faculty member Stephen Bieber will chair a 13-member committee representing UW administrators, faculty, staff and students to consult with UW President Laurie Nichols in preparing a plan to further reduce spending in the 2018 fiscal year.

Bieber, a statistics professor who directs the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center, was elected unanimously by committee members during the group’s first meeting Tuesday.

The Financial Crisis Advisory Committee (FCAC) decided it will meet twice a week through the summer, Tuesdays and Fridays, from noon-2 p.m. The meetings -- which will be open to the public, with the exception of executive sessions to consider matters such as individual position cuts -- will take place in Room 506 of Coe Library.

“There is no doubt that the FCAC is faced with a monumental task that needs to be completed very quickly. However, at no point will integrity be sacrificed for speed,” Bieber says. “We are fully committed to achieving the best solution possible given the constraints imposed on us. It is our goal that our meetings, our process and our deliberations will be transparent and open to input.”

Other members of the committee 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; 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.

Nichols expects 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 in part 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.

In addition to consulting with the committee regarding program cuts, Nichols told the members she will seek their insights in identifying inefficiencies across the university.

The committee also voted Tuesday to support the president’s plan to appoint a separate group to study the university’s academic program fees. Nichols says she sees opportunity to generate more revenue through higher program fees and differentiated tuition for certain high-cost programs.

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 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.

Information about UW’s budget reductions for the coming biennium is available on a new Web page, Nichols continues to invite input from the campus community and others. People are encouraged to email their comments and ideas to, and to contact FCAC members directly.

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