By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The University of Wyoming’s administration has unveiled a plan to make multiple cuts to programs and teaching positions to accommodate a $42.3 million budget reduction.
This overall plan for the university will be presented to UW trustees. However, units of the university are also preparing for further analysis this fall to guide additional, strategic spending cuts.
The budget reduction plan touches both academic and nonacademic units of the university. At least 78 positions, most of them currently unfilled, would be eliminated.
On the academic side, UW primarily would offset its 2021 budget cuts with money saved by eliminating unfilled positions, the university said.
Additionally, the colleges and schools would reduce their support budgets, including travel and professional development, and operations budgets, as well as eliminate unfilled positions. The cuts would eliminate 50 currently budgeted positions.
On the nonacademic side, the university would eliminate another 28 budgeted positions. Housing, dining, catering and conference services would be reorganized for greater efficiency and productivity.
“Any cut of this magnitude is difficult, but we believe we have a specific plan to achieve this reduction by finding new efficiencies and eliminating some programs that don’t align with our strategic priorities,” UW President Ed Seidel said. “We aim to minimize the impact to our students; optimize the research we conduct to boost our state’s economy; and strengthen the service we perform for the citizens of Wyoming.”
“This positions the university to develop plans that will, over the long term, enable us to become a best-in-class 21st century land-grant university true to its Wyoming roots,” he added.
The Department of Athletics would reduce salaries and cut team travel costs. The Office of the Provost would cut about 35 graduate teaching assistant positions and reduce spending on enrollment management and global engagement.
In concert with the budget reduction proposal, 20 low-enrollment academic programs have been identified for review for potential reorganization, consolidation, reduction or discontinuance — with the potential to save $2.5 million annually. They include:
- In the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the master’s and Ph.D. programs in agronomy would be eliminated and the community development concentration in agricultural economics would be refocused to more closely align with the strategic plan.
- In the College of Arts and Sciences, the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and minor in American studies, the master’s program in psychology, the bachelor’s program in journalism, the master’s degree in teaching chemistry, the master’s program in history teaching and the master’s program in creative writing would all be eliminated.
- In the College of Business, minors in accounting, decision science, finance, human resource management and marketing would be eliminated, and the MBA with a concentration on energy would be suspended. Additionally, the business administration online bachelor’s program would be replaced with a human resources management online program.
- In the College of Education, the bachelor’s program in secondary French, German and Spanish education would be eliminated.
- In the College of Engineering and Applied Science, consolidation of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science would be considered.
- In the College of Health Sciences, several curricula would be overhauled.
- In the College of Law, the military justice/Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps track and the Summer Trial Institute would be eliminated.
Seidel was directed by the Board of Trustees to propose a budget reduction plan for the board’s consideration at its Nov. 11-13 meeting to comply with the budget cuts imposed by Gov. Mark Gordon in response to a dramatic downturn in state revenue.
“It will take time and deep faculty discussion and administrative discussions to effectively pivot the university through shared governance processes toward a new vision,” Seidel said. “The university is committed collectively to making decisions to prioritize specific programs for growth; others for elimination or consolidation and creating new programs that may be needed to realize our common goals. This will be carried out in conjunction with known university processes for program revision and strategic planning.”
In addition to the plan for cuts for the current biennium, UW leaders are moving forward with a deeper analysis of the university’s academic programs to free up resources to advance its “four pillars,” priorities of becoming more digital, more entrepreneurial, more interdisciplinary and more inclusive.
Seidel and other UW leaders are working with the state’s community colleges, other state and federal agencies, private entities and others to develop programs and partnerships to propel the state’s economy through technological innovation and workforce development. Some of these will require a reallocation of university resources, in addition to new external sources of funding.
“Over time, if we invest selectively, and we develop programs and partnerships across the state with these qualities in mind, we can transform the university, even during a time of budget cuts,” Seidel said. “We intend to be very strategic, cut where things do not contribute to the above themes, or where they are stale or not growing, and selectively invest where they do. Ultimately, we’re working to help be part of the solution to lay the foundation for the new economy of the state.”