By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees approved a plan Thursday to cut the university’s budget by $42.3 million.
This budget cut was driven by a 10% cut in state funding that resulted in an immediate reduced distribution from the state earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The board voted Thursday to accept the plan presented by President Ed Seidel a few weeks ago in response to cuts imposed by Gov. Mark Gordon as a result of a dramatic downturn in state revenue.
The plan affects both academic and nonacademic units of the university and will eliminate 80 positions.
On the academic side, the plan eliminates 57 positions. On the nonacademic side, 23 positions will be eliminated.
Additionally, colleges and schools will reduce their support budgets, including travel and professional development, and operations budgets.
Housing, dining, catering and conferences will be reorganized for greater efficiency and productivity.
The Department of Athletics will reduce salaries and cut team travel costs. The Office of the Provost will cut about 35 graduate teaching assistant positions and reduce spending on global engagement travel and operations.
“These reductions are not easy, and they certainly affect the ability of units of the university to perform critical functions. They will lead to reductions in the academic programs we are able to offer,” Seidel said. “But we’re doing everything we can to minimize the impact to our students; optimize the research we conduct to boost our state’s economy; and, where possible, strengthen the service we perform for the citizens of Wyoming.”
“The university has reached a point where future loss of teaching faculty and staff support cannot be addressed by asking our remaining employees to simply assume yet more responsibilities,” he added.
In light of the decrease in state funding, the trustees also voted to increase the standard tuition rate by 6% for the 2021-22 academic year. This applies to both undergraduates and graduates and both residents and nonresidents.
However, it doesn’t apply to programs with differential or market-based tuition rates, which are set separately.
Even with the increase, UW’s tuition rates remain among in the country.
The increase, which was supported by the Associated Students of UW, is expected to generate about $3.2 million annually, based on current enrollment numbers.
Over 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 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 program in teaching in chemistry, the master’s program in teaching in history and the master’s degree in creative writing would be eliminated;
- 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 Business, minors in accounting, decision science, finance, human resource management and marketing would be eliminated the Master of Business Administration energy concentration 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, and
- In the College of Law, the military justice/Judge Advocate General’s Corps track and the Summer Trial Institute would be eliminated.
The finalized academic reductions are slated to be presented to the trustees in February.
“We know that elimination of some programs will be necessary to effectively pivot the university through shared governance processes toward a new vision that will enable us to become a best-in-class 21st century land-grant university true to its Wyoming roots,” Seidel said. “We are 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.”