The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees passed its roughly $498 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year during its meeting Wednesday in Laramie.
The budget remains significantly smaller than the budgets enjoyed by UW before the Wyoming Legislature mandated a $42 million cut for the fiscal year 2018, which was fully implemented by this time in 2017.
The fiscal year 2019 budget, which starts July 1, addresses staff shortages, provides for the hiring of roughly 30 new faculty and sets aside a $5.5 million pool for staff salary raises.
The budget process started with individual unit proposals, approved by President Laurie Nichols and presented in hearings before the trustees’ budget committee.
“All colleges, departments, units indicated during the hearings that the funds necessary to operate for the upcoming fiscal year 19 were sufficient in their budgets to accomplish the plans for fiscal year,” said Board Treasurer John McKinley, who chairs that committee.
Following up on a few questions posed by the board, the final budget was hammered out ahead of the June board meeting Wednesday, when it was approved with little discussion.
The budget includes funds for the hiring of 10 custodians and one trainer — additional staff determined essential by an external study conducted in 2017.
That study found that, following the budget cut, UW would need to hire an additional 20 custodians to reach an acceptable level of cleanliness.
UW Operations plans to request more custodians in upcoming years.
The board also approved a timeline for tuition increases that sets up the board to make tuition decisions farther in advance.
“(Currently), we approve in March and then we implement — immediately really — for the fall term, and it gives us a very small window to implement a tuition increase,” Nichols said. “But most importantly, it doesn’t allow as much time to talk to students and families about the tuition.”
A capacity study presented to the board in January recommended lowering non-resident tuition as a way to recruit out-of-state students. University administration, unsatisfied with the sample size and other factors of the capacity study, began their own “deep dive” into the numbers and requested the board make no change to tuition until after this follow-up was complete.
The board, however, voted to increase tuition for both resident and non-resident students by 4 percent in March and the board and administration agreed to come up with a new timeline for setting tuition. Under the new timeline, the board will be able to set tuition for fall 2019 by September and maintain that lead in following years.
“You would be approving tuition 12 months in front of when we would actually be implementing it,” Nichols said. “It will give us a full year to talk to families and students. What’s really important is it gives our financial aid department a full year so they know the actual cost of attendance a year out and they’ll be much better able to make financial aid reports.”
More advanced notice of tuition changes helps the entire university, Associate Vice President for Financial Affairs David Jewell added.
“It helps our families and our students plan,” he said. “And it helps us from a financial planning perspective as well. The sooner that we can set these numbers and model out what that revenue looks like, the better we can manage our resources.”
Jewell and Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Kyle Moore are scheduled to present new tuition recommendations — likely including alterations to non-resident and distance education tuition — during the board’s July meeting in Cody.