The University of Wyoming is going into fiscal year 2017 with $19 million in reduced spending after the UW Board of Trustees approved the year’s budget, taking effect July 1.

UW President Laurie Nichols explained her budgeting plan for this year and outlined possibilities for FY 2018 and beyond.

The Legislature’s penny plan required UW to implement about $3 million in cuts for this year’s budget, which was already completed before the $35 million reduction, though the next two years mandated by Gov. Matt Mead was in place. However, because of other internal UW monetary needs, such as increased utility costs and the fiscal system, the total required is about $44.2 million, Nichols said.

Her plan reduces ongoing, repeated university expenditures by $19 million this year and about $10 million in FY 2018.

One-time funding and internal reallocations of about $6.5 million will also play a part in the cuts, coming from various reserves and voluntary reduction of summer hours to 32 instead of 40. These temporary monies will need to be replaced with permanent ongoing cuts in the FY 2018 budget.

Personnel expenses are the highest line item on the budget, and finding ways to cut these expenditures is necessary to achieve the required reductions.

Seventy vacant positions were eliminated in the FY 2017 budget, saving about $5.2 million. However, the eliminations were not done very strategically, and Nichols said they can now redistribute positions where they are most needed.

“The best way to (find money reductions) is to eliminate the positions that were vacant, where we could immediately realize savings and not impact people’s lives,” she said. “There’s a lot of that that’s not fair. But what we now can do is, as we get more vacancies, we can now take those vacancies and be more strategic with those.”

Eliminating almost all temporary academic appointments could save another $2.5 million. However, a standardized workload will be instated on many full-time faculty members to teach courses previously done by part-time faculty.

Early retirement incentives for long-time employees or people close to retirement will also be offered to anyone working at UW, Nichols explained. It is expected to bring $3 million to the university, although $5.6 million is being taken from the employer paid benefits line.

“We don’t even know who those people are yet,” she said. “We need to give people time to think about it. We took money out of the benefits pool and we cut the budget there, but we did it with the fact that, as these retirements come forward, we will pay back the pool. We know it’s not a permanent budget reduction — it’s a temporary placeholder until we can get these retirements.”

This year, money will be used to pay out the incentives, but any more early retirements through FY 2018 is planned to make up and exceed the initial costs, Nichols said.

By the numbers: University of Wyoming plans for budget reduction

$5.2 million: Eliminate 70 positions

$2.5 million: Standardize faculty workload and eliminate most temporary academic appointments

$1.5 million: Change requirements of part-time positions to eliminate full-time paid benefits

$100,000: No overtime, faculty overload or additional compensation

Estimated $3 million: Early retirement incentives to qualified employees

(10) comments

double307

The eliminated 70 positions will save $5.2 million? That's about $75,000 per position. I've always heard that positions at UW are not competitive in salary, but $75k goes a long way in Wyoming. Something doesn't add up -- what am I missing?

Kim

That $75K wouldn't be just salary, the benefits rate at UW is darn near 50% of salary, so it would work out to an average of $50K salary and $25K in benefits.

freeconsultant

How about the associated costs -- health care, retirement, social security tax, etc.? That amounts to at least 30% in addition to salary.

NotThisAgain

Keep in mind that these positions are not competing with other jobs in Wyoming. In order to remain competitive the salaries need to keep up with places like Colorado.

clipper

The positions are being eliminated. How does an eliminated position require a competitive salary?

waitasec

Keep in mind some of this is spin. "Eliminating" positions may only mean that they are taken off the books. It's possible that UW never had any intention of filling some positions, even though they were advertised. Then, when you take them off the books, it looks like you've cut your budget. In reality, nothing has changed.

As for the rest, when you eliminate benefits by cutting positions to part-time, then you have given people a good reason to relocate to another state.

Oh, and good luck telling tenured faculty what their course load will be.

Snowy Range

Sorry, that's not the way it works. There's less -- a lot less -- money coming in, so there's going to be that much less money going out. It's not spin.

And, as for telling tenured faculty what their course loads will be, it's fairly simple. You just tell them.

waitasec

Ummm....nope. When faculty have 80% research/15% teaching/5% service split, according to their contract, there will not be any more time for an increased teaching load.
What will happen is class cancellation. Then students will transfer and take their tuition money elsewhere. It's a death-spiral in the making.

Regardless, Wyoming and UW are in a very bad way and they still aren't sure how deep the rabbit hole will go because it will take years before the full effect manifests itself- in the form of reduced services, reduced staff, etc.

A state that lives or dies only a "boom/bust" economy today is simply irresponsible. Eliminating positions or cutting hours to save money on benefits forces people to make changes they didn't want or request. I doubt people who are being cut back to part-time and losing their benefits are saying "Well, that's OK. I can take one for the team."

clipper

"Oh, and good luck telling tenured faculty what their course load will be."

They've already been told. Those that want to maintain a light workload may leave, but bear in mind the Big Ed bubble is bursting everywhere so opportunities may be few.

laramiefaculty

Many faculty, especially in A&S, have a 65% teaching element to their contracts, and already teach the required 2/3 load. The salaries in departments and colleges differ widely as well.

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