Thirty-seven University of Wyoming employees will lose their jobs next week in the latest in a series of moves by the school to tackle a $41 million budget cut.
UW President Laurie Nichols told the Board of Trustees at its monthly meeting Thursday that the university would be instituting the layoffs, said Heather Earl, secretary for UW’s Staff Senate. Though the exact number of the layoffs wasn’t clear before Nichols’ statement, university leaders had previously indicated that the budget crisis would likely mean people losing their jobs.
The layoffs will apply only to staff members, officials have said, and not faculty. The university this winter announced it was offering buyouts for certain faculty members. More than 40 took the offer, and around half of those soon-to-be vacant positions will be eliminated.
University spokesman Chad Baldwin said that laid-off employees will be gone from the university no later than June 30, the end of the fiscal year. None of those positions will be refilled.
Rachel Stevens, the vice president for the Staff Senate, said the layoffs were “about what we expected.” She said affected employees will begin getting pink slips on Monday. Originally, she said, the process was scheduled to begin before then, but graduation pushed back the timetable.
“The president said they wanted to have a celebratory weekend for the graduates and come back on Monday and begin the hard work of laying people off,” Stevens said.
Stevens said they didn’t know all of the areas on campus would experience layoffs, but she “for sure” expected that some people working in the Outreach School would lose their jobs. Officials last week denied a rumor that 28 people in the agency had already been laid off. Outreach is being dismantled and will see its funding cut $500,000, two markers that indicate layoffs, Stevens said.
Baldwin said there wouldn’t be 28 people laid off from Outreach, but he confirmed that some people in that unit will lose their jobs.
Information technology will experience layoffs, Stevens and Baldwin both said. Stevens speculated that the College of Arts & Sciences, which recently reorganized, will lose “a couple” of employees.
Baldwin declined to go into more detail about which units would lose employees but said more information would be released Monday, when the layoffs begin.
Still, though staff may be able to guess which areas of campus are likely to institute layoffs, “it would’ve been nice” if budget documents had included that information, Stevens said. Each department created a budget to explain how it would tackle its share of the state cuts, and Stevens said she would’ve preferred those fiscal plans to include more specifics about layoffs. Baldwin said that suggestion wasn’t the most “humane” way to let people know they may be facing layoffs.
“I think I would rather hear it from my supervisor rather than hear about it elsewhere, or have it be mentioned in a public forum,” he said.
Earl said uncertain staff were anxious about their future at the school.
“Since nobody’s been officially notified, at this point it could be anybody’s position,” she said, “so I think it’s just general unease and anxiety across campus until those letters are given to the employees.”
A budget proposal presented to the board during its meeting called for eliminating more than 40 positions, although Baldwin said earlier this week that some of those cuts would involve vacant positions. More than 300 positions have been struck from the university’s books since Nichols took charge a year ago and set about tackling UW’s funding crisis. The school has lost tens of millions in state dollars as a result of a downturn in the energy sector.
Stevens said she thought the university should be safe from layoffs for fiscal year 2018, though she couldn’t speculate about what comes after. Baldwin said there are no plans for more layoffs or buyout offers for the next fiscal year, though he cautioned that state cuts could change the university’s plans.
A message left for Faculty Senate Chair Michael Barker was not returned Friday.
The board also approved the elimination of five degree programs, Stevens said. They are:
Master’s of arts in French;
Master’s of arts in German;
Bachelor’s of arts in Russian;
Bachelor’s of science in secondary education for industrial technical education;
And the master’s of science in neuroscience.
The programs were knocked for their low enrollment numbers. Other sparsely populated degrees were placed on hold.