LARAMIE — Having already eliminated more than 100 staff and faculty positions this year, the University of Wyoming is proposing further reductions in staff and faculty next year as it grapples with some $41 million in budget cuts.
UW President Laurie Nichols this week outlined a plan that includes eliminating more vacant positions and offering another financial incentive for longtime faculty members to leave their jobs early. The plan would result in about $10 million in permanent reductions.
The new budget cuts are for fiscal year 2018 and come after the university has already identified about $19 million in cuts in the current 2017 fiscal year. The cuts made this year also included eliminating about 100 vacant positions and offering early-retirement incentives.
“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 said in a statement. “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.”
Public comment on the proposed cuts for fiscal year 2018 is being accepted through Oct. 28. Nichols is scheduled to give her final recommendations to the UW Board of Trustees on Nov. 8. The board will consider the proposal at its regular meeting on Nov. 16.
Besides the budget cuts, Nichols also is looking to increase revenue by about $10 million through higher student academic fees, increased enrollment and already scheduled tuition increases.
“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 said.
The budget reductions are a result of a drop in funding from the state because of a steep downturn in Wyoming’s energy economy. In addition, the university is undertaking an expensive overhaul of its financial accounting system that it is helping to pay for by reallocating existing funding.
The fiscal year 2018 budget reductions would include additional cuts across the campus, amounting to about $6 million.
Academic Affairs, which includes the Arts and Sciences, Business and Agriculture and Natural Resources colleges, would see the largest cut at $2.05 million, followed by the Division of Administration at $1.31 million and the Department of Athletics at $1 million.
A separate proposal 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 2018 budget reduction plan.