College of Science handling budget cuts, struggling with state grants

By Cory Ray, @coryray_DE

While university budget cuts are being managed through periodic staff fillings, the tables are turning with a lack of state grants.

The College of Science experienced a nearly $321,000 budget cut from from the university — 2.3 percent of its overall budget.

The cut is composed entirely of available salaries from the 2015 fiscal year, according to Laurie Achenbach, dean of the College of Science.

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Four tenured track positions are included in those salaries and come from professors who retired or left this year. 

“It simply means the college has a little less financial flexibility than we normally would,” Achenbach said, “But because these are nonrecurring cuts, it’s easier to handle.”

To compensate for absent positions, nontenured track professors were hired to instruct classes that were expected to be taught by the currently unfilled tenured track seats. Their salaries come from a portion of the vacant tenured track professors’ salaries with the rest being used to satisfy the budget cut.

By hiring nontenured track faculty to cover open tenured track positions for this year, Achenbach said classes can continue to be offered to ensure teaching will not be affected.

Achenbach said the College of Science has initiated a hiring process for the four tenured track professors for the 2016 fiscal year as well as for two nontenured track faculty members.

“At this time, we really don’t have any positions that I would call vacant and no plans to fill,” she said.

Achenbach said there has not been a reduction in graduate assistantships offered, but said as some graduate assistant were hired from state money, the college had to find outside sources of funding for those assistants. 

Because some other state grants have not come through, Achenbach said the college has not been able to hire employees who would be paid by such grants. Positions include a combination of researchers and administrative staff.

As previously reported, state grants for research have come through much slower than in past years.

James Garvey, vice chancellor for research, said $17 million in state grants for research has not yet been given to the university. Research has so far received only 24 percent of what it saw last year in state grants. State grants for research usually total $40 to $50 million at the university, according to Garvey.

“Like all the academic colleges and the entire institution, we’re just waiting to see what the state does,” Achenbach said. 

Cory Ray can be reached at dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter @coryray_DE

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