October 22, 2012 — Aiming to reduce its faculty and staff budgets without layoffs, the University of Wyoming has begun holding some positions open to prepare for a state budget cut of up to $15.7 million in fiscal year 2014.
The actions are in line with UW's budget reduction plan presented in May to Gov. Matt Mead. Anticipating declines in state revenues, the governor in April asked state agencies to plan for possible 8 percent budget reductions for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2013. For UW, the target would amount to $15.7 million.
"It's important for the university to act now. I am committed to making any reductions in personnel through attrition, to the greatest extent feasible, rather than by layoffs," UW President Tom Buchanan says. "This will be possible only by acting immediately to reserve a portion of the salary and benefits vacated by retiring and resigning faculty, staff and administrators."
By reducing spending in the current fiscal year, the university can lessen the need for potential layoffs if the full 8 percent reduction is ordered by the governor and the Wyoming Legislature.
The university's plan 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 equals $6.5 million in salaries and benefits. While the governor has not indicated whether a $15.7 million cut actually will be imposed, UW is leaving some positions open starting in the current fiscal year.
As a first step, UW's Office of Academic Affairs this 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 represents 12 unfilled faculty positions.
And on Oct. 3, UW's vice presidents reviewed 84 vacant non-academic staff positions representing $3.05 million in annual salaries. They identified 28 of those positions to hold open, reserving $716,385 in salaries to be used to meet the projected budget reductions, should they be enacted by the Legislature.
The non-academic 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.
"We are endeavoring to minimize the impact of these staff reductions on students and our core academic mission," Buchanan says."But any staff reductions have impacts, and they will be specific to the individual units where the reductions take place."
The next quarterly meeting to review vacant non-academic positions will take place in January.
If state budget cuts are less severe than $15.7 million, UW could fill some of the open positions.