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UW Continues with Staff Reduction Plan

Adam Porter, Townsquare Media

The University of Wyoming so far has eliminated 42 non-academic staff positions and is holding open 12 faculty positions as initial steps to prepare for anticipated state budget cuts in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The reductions, which will be made over a two-year period, have started now, before Gov. Matt Mead and the Wyoming State Legislature take final action on UW’s budget, to avoid employee layoffs when any reductions take effect.

“This is prudent action on the part of the university, but each of these eliminated positions represents a loss of UW’s capacity to accomplish its mission,” UW President Tom Buchanan says. “The individual units that have lost these positions may feel the impacts sooner than others but, before long, every UW stakeholder will feel them.”

After asking UW and state agencies last year to prepare for budget reductions of up to 8 percent, the governor has recommended that state operating funds for the university be cut by 6 percent starting in the 2013-14 fiscal year. Legislators are considering the governor’s proposal — which would cut higher education by a smaller percentage than many other agencies — in the current legislative session.

The plan developed by the university in response to the governor’s request calls for a reduction in non-personnel expenses of 14 percent, with just a 3.5 percent cut in personnel expenses. Still, a 3.5 percent reduction for personnel ultimately will result in the elimination of an estimated 100 non-academic positions and 24 faculty positions.

“We appreciate the fact that the governor has proposed, and that legislators are considering, a smaller reduction for higher education than some other parts of state government,” Buchanan says. “At the same time, a 6 percent reduction is substantial, and it can only be accomplished by trimming our budgets for salaries and wages.”

As a first step, UW’s Office of Academic Affairs last summer used the existing faculty central position management process to hold in reserve $1 million of the $3.57 million in annual faculty and academic professional salaries vacated in the 2012 fiscal year. This amount equates to 12 unfilled faculty positions. A second $1 million cut in the budget for academic personnel — representing 12 additional faculty positions — would be required to meet an 8 percent reduction in state funding.

On Oct. 3, in the first of a series of quarterly meetings to strategically eliminate some vacant non-academic staff positions, UW’s vice presidents reviewed 84 vacant jobs and identified 28 of those positions to hold open. The second quarterly meeting on Jan. 10 resulted in a reduction of 14 additional staff positions. Together, the loss of the 42 non-academic positions will save the university $1.24 million annually.

The eliminated staff positions are scattered across numerous campus units, including Academic Affairs, Administration and Finance, Athletics, Information Technology, the President’s Office, the Office of Research and Economic Development and Student Affairs.

“By planning and acting ahead, and making careful choices about which positions to fill and which to eliminate over an extended period, we are trying to minimize the impact of these reductions on students and our core academic mission. However, it’s impossible to make cuts of this magnitude without impacting our teaching, research, service and outreach,” Buchanan says. “The effects of the cuts also will take the form of reduced effectiveness in instructional support, reduced student services and reduced capacity to maintain the physical plant.”

The next quarterly meeting is scheduled for early April 2013, when the vice presidents will aim to identify positions to be eliminated to save $375,000 in non-academic salaries.

More information about UW’s process to reduce faculty and staff positions can be found by on the UW website at uwyo.edu/acadaffairs/plans/budget/.

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