Daily Egyptian

Chancellor unveils plan to cut university budget by $19 million, includes layoffs

By Cory Ray

In a statement Wednesday, interim Chancellor Brad Colwell released the breakdown of a $19 million permanent budget cut to the university.

The cut may result in layoffs to 51 civil service employees, contract non-renewals, layoffs for faculty and reductions in the budgets of many departments on campus.

Almost 100 civil service employees, including the 51 expecting layoffs, could be affected by a process called “bumping,” which means staff can transfer their layoff to another person with less seniority in the same position.

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For non-tenure track faculty, 24 faculty members received non-renewal notices for their contracts. For 184 NTT faculty, contract renewals or non-renewals have yet to be determined.

According to Colwell’s statement, the number of non-renewals is expected to grow, “as our academic leadership works to balance our budgetary challenges and instructional needs for fall.”

At the beginning of fiscal year 2015 when the state had a budget, there were 3, 258 faculty and staff at the university. Since then, the university has lost roughly 400 faculty and staff positions, according to University Spokesperson Rae Goldsmith.

“We are becoming a much leaner institution,” Goldsmith said.

Of the $19 million dollar cut, $10 million comes from using the salaries of currently vacant positions. The other $9 million will come from “reductions in equipment, supplies and contractual services, campus work opportunities for students, travel and targeted reductions to specific units or areas.”

Among the units with the largest percentage of state-funded cuts are the chancellor’s office and research with 14 percent cuts each. Athletics and economic development will both experience cuts of about 20 percent each.

Goldsmith said the breakdown of how each department will be making cuts will be made available in the coming weeks.

“The intent was to do what we could to protect the academic side of the house,” Goldsmith said, as units such as academic affairs and the law school received smaller cuts in terms of percentage.

Unit Total state budget Permanent reduction % of unit state budget
Academic Affairs $116,718,962 $4,254,907 4%
School of Law $9,137,878 $465,000 5%
Development and Alumni Relations $2,666,315 $166,000 6%
Student Affairs $2,274,099 $256,101 11%
Administration and Finance $17,618,980 $1,990,951 11%
Research $4,711,579 $679,234 14%
Chancellor’s Office $5,769,624 $798,762 14%
Athletics $1,551,833 $300,000 19%
Economic Development $500,511 $100,102 20%

“These reductions are very difficult, following upon a $21 million permanent cut already made this year,” Colwell said in the statement. “But they are essential to our financial well-being.”

Colwell said 200 of 3,700 student positions are expected to be lost, saving around $1 million.

He said that number could potentially be smaller as some departments may seek other ways to reduce costs such as reducing the number of work hours for students.

The number of graduate assistantships available to graduate students for the upcoming fall semester, however, is still unknown.

Because of reductions in graduate assistantships in the fiscal year 17, university administration did not require any cuts to assistantships in the fiscal year 2018; however, individual departments still retain the power to cut assistantships.

According to Goldsmith, the finalization of GA numbers is not complete because administration still needs to process the makeup of classes and how they will be filled in the fall.

She said the dates in which class makeup can accurately be determined varies from year to year, so it is currently unknown how long graduate students will need to wait until they will know about the full array of assistantships offered in the fall.

Other cuts could include reduced library hours, class consolidation and reduced hours for some workers.

Goldsmith said this budget reduction was crafted from Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s FY18 budget proposal with the expectation a budget will be passed.

According to Goldsmith, the state budget could look different from the one proposed, but the university will continue with the $19 million cut nonetheless as a way to begin a 10-year reimbursement plan.

Editor-in-Chief Cory Ray can be reached at cray@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter @coryray_de.

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