UW Braces For Another Round Of Budget Cuts

In response to Gov. Mark Gordon’s call for state agencies to prepare for significant budget reductions, the University of Wyoming is developing a process to deal with cuts to the block grant it receives from the state.

The governor’s requests indicate the potential for a total 20 percent reduction in the biennium that begins July 1.

“A reduction of this magnitude, coming after the $42 million reduction absorbed by the university in the 2016-18 biennium, is bound to have a very serious impact on this institution,” incoming President Ed Seidel says. “We are working hard to develop a process that will prioritize the key components necessary for UW to continue fulfilling its land-grant education, research and service mission at the highest level possible.”

A plan for this reduction will include a working group of administrators and representatives of faculty, staff and students. A 10 percent reduction would constitute a loss of $17.5 million per year, or $35 million per biennium, from UW’s general fund expenditures.

“We will consult widely with university stakeholders in determining options,” Seidel says. “We want to make sure these reductions are as strategic as possible so as to minimize the impact to our students; the research we conduct to boost our state’s economy; and the service we perform for the citizens of Wyoming.”

The working group also is charged with developing recommendations to boost other sources of revenue, and to develop a recommended process for units to make strategic investments at each budget reduction scenario.

The working group is co-chaired by current Acting President Neil Theobald, who will return to his position of vice president for finance and administration July 1, and incoming Interim Provost Anne Alexander.

Other members are College of Business Dean David Sprott; College of Engineering and Applied Science Interim Dean Cameron Wright; College of Health Sciences Dean David Jones; College of Law Dean Klint Alexander; Department of Music Head Scott Turpen; Vice President for Research and Economic Development Ed Synakowski; Vice President for Student Affairs Kim Chestnut; Director of Athletics Tom Burman; Faculty Senate Chair Rudi Michalak; Associated Students of UW President Riley Talamantes; and Staff Senate Chair James Wheeler.

“This should be seen as an opportunity to revamp the way we operate, to do things that are otherwise harder to do, with an eye toward reducing obstacles that prevent us from moving where we want to go over the coming years,” Seidel wrote in a memo to the working group members. “I would like us to develop plans that over the long term enable us to become a best-of-breed 21st century land-grant institution.”

The working group is scheduled to begin meeting immediately, and recommendations will be refined with campus and stakeholder feedback throughout the summer and fall.

As part of the process, Seidel wants to embed a number of themes across all UW programs. Those include being more digital, more entrepreneurial, more interdisciplinary and more inclusive.

“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,” he wrote. “How do we do this in a time of budget cuts? We need 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.”