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UW Proposes Plan for Second Year of Budget Reductions

October 12, 2016

The University of Wyoming would eliminate some 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 presented today (Wednesday) by President Laurie Nichols and UW’s Financial Crisis Advisory Committee (FCAC).

Separately, the president will propose a revenue-generation plan that includes student fees for high-cost academic programs.

The reduction plan for the 2017-18 fiscal year, crafted by the president in consultation with the FCAC, was presented to the campus community during a town-hall meeting this afternoon. Public comment will be accepted by the president and the FCAC through Oct. 28, and the committee will provide further input to the president by Nov. 1. Nichols will give her final recommendation Nov. 8 to the Board of Trustees -- which must approve any elements of the proposal before they would go into effect -- for consideration at its regular meeting Nov. 16.

People are encouraged to email their comments and ideas to The FCAC also will accept public comment Monday, Oct. 17, at 1 p.m. in the Wyoming Union East Ballroom and Friday, Oct. 21, at noon in Room 506 of Coe Library.

“The plan represents our best effort to meet the necessary reductions in the state block grant while adhering to the university’s core mission of quality education for our students, and research and service to benefit the state,” Nichols says. “Reductions of this magnitude are never easy, but this plan will maintain UW’s status as an outstanding academic institution dedicated to the education and success of our students.”

“The committee was impressed by the willingness of so many members of the UW community to sacrifice personal and unit interests for the welfare of the institution, to commit to students and their success, and to place their trust in the future of UW,” says Department of Statistics Professor Stephen Bieber, who chairs the FCAC. “The FCAC has made every effort to develop a plan that protects students and their educational experience, is flexible and accomplishes its charged goal.”

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 nearly $41 million in state funding.

The plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2017, would result in about $10 million in permanent reductions. Already implemented for the current fiscal year are $19.3 million in reductions -- to be carried through the second year of the biennium and beyond -- 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 would be offered, this one targeting faculty members with at least 15 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 15 faculty and staff vacancies that have come open since the FY 2017 reductions would be eliminated, saving an estimated $750,000.

A total of just under $6 million would 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 16 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 efficiencies.

Nichols says an analysis of how many jobs might be lost as a result of these reductions has not been completed, but that information would be gathered once units finalize their implementation plans.

“We believe we will be able to achieve much of the necessary reduction in personnel spending largely through attrition but, at this point, we are not sure how many employees may be affected,” she says.

Separate from the financial crisis plan, the president’s revenue-generation proposal would implement program fees for high-cost academic programs, similar to most of UW’s peer institutions. That would generate an estimated $5 million. A 4 percent tuition increase, which is already part of the UW tuition policy adopted by the Board of Trustees, would produce an estimated $2 million.

Even with those increases, UW’s student tuition and fees are expected to remain among the lowest of the nation’s public universities for both in-state students and nonresidents.

Projected enrollment growth would generate an additional $200,000 from tuition and fees, along with an additional $350,000 for UW Residence Life and Dining Services from student housing room and board.

“We are committed to growing our student enrollment, and we will have the infrastructure to accept more students, even with the reductions we must make during this biennium,” Nichols says. “The university will continue to provide top-quality education at a great price, a vibrant student experience and cutting-edge research, and we continue to move forward with initiatives that will further enhance our standing.”

For the long term, the administration plans, among other things, to develop a strong strategic plan to include higher fiscal performance; diversify revenue sources, with less reliance on increases in state support; implement a responsibility-centered management budget model; develop a merit salary policy and ongoing plan for salary increases; incentivize external funding and grow technology transfer; and launch a capital campaign to support the strategic plan.

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