UW President to declare financial crisis

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees has approved a budget that will reduce ongoing spending by about $19 million and internally reallocate about $6 million in one-time funding during the fiscal year that begins July 1. In addition, the board today (Wednesday) endorsed a plan recommended by President Laurie Nichols to identify ongoing savings of at least an additional $10 million for the following fiscal year. Those reductions would include program cuts and restructuring following a review process that is underway this summer. The board’s actions are in line with the budget-cutting approach presented by Nichols to UW employees and students during a town-hall meeting on campus in May. “We have managed to avoid program cuts and layoffs in the fiscal year that begins next month, but those types of reductions will be unavoidable in the following year,” Nichols says. “With the initial round of cuts approved, we’ll now move forward with a fair and open process to tackle the second round -- with a continuing commitment to student success, quality programs and excellence in research and service to the state.” Nichols says she will present a plan to achieve the necessary reductions in the second year of the biennium to the UW Board of Trustees in September. To accomplish that, she will declare a financial crisis under university regulations, triggering a process that will involve a university-wide meeting and consultation with a committee composed of administrators, faculty and staff members. 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. The budget approved for the coming fiscal year includes a total of $7 million in cuts based upon allocations given to campus units when the Legislature mandated a 1.5 percent reduction during the 2016 session -- and as a result of a need for internal reallocations. Subsequently, Gov. Matt Mead directed that $35 million be reduced from UW’s state appropriation for the 2017-18 biennium. Under the approved budget, UW will reduce spending by about $19 million in the upcoming fiscal year -- cuts that will carry over to the second year of the biennium and likely beyond. The biggest piece of that reduction is eliminating at least 70 vacant positions across the university, which is expected to save about $5.2 million per year. Additional savings will come from standardizing the teaching load for faculty members and severely limiting temporary faculty appointments ($2.5 million); offering a retirement and separation incentive to some longtime employees ($3 million); not allowing part-time positions to be benefitted between half-time and full-time ($1.5 million); and eliminating overtime and overload pay (at least $100,000). Separately, the board approved the details of the retirement incentive plan -- which is offered to employees who are at least 61 years old and have worked at least 15 years at UW, 10 of which must be consecutive -- and a separation incentive plan for employees 61 or older with fewer years of service to UW. The reductions that will be necessary in the following fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2017, will be more difficult, Nichols says. Reducing spending by at least an additional $10 million annually likely will require elimination of some programs, based upon the program reviews. The next step is the convening of a Financial Crisis Advisory Committee. The president will consult with the committee in the creation of the plan to present to the Board of Trustees. 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 Financial Crisis Advisory Committee. 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 undergraduate programs with fewer than 25 graduates over a five-year period, and 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. “I have heard faculty and staff repeatedly express concerns about low morale. Declaring a financial crisis is a step that, by its nature, is unlikely to improve morale,” Nichols says. “The university must deal decisively with the reductions in revenues that affect both FY 2017 and FY 2018. But, as I will continue to emphasize, refocusing our efforts over the next two years will place UW in a far more favorable position for the future. That is the reason I accepted the position of president, and I remain committed to that as we move forward.” #shortgo #buckrail #county10 #reboot #springcity #dally #county17 #oilcity #news