Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell says budget cuts at the school won’t negatively impact academic programs.
WKU Wednesday released a plan to eliminate $6 million from the fiscal year 2017 budget.
Ransdell said no degree programs or faculty positions that are currently filled are being eliminated. The cuts are the result of a 4.5 percent reduction in state funding, an enrollment decline, and a 48 percent increase in the employer contribution to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System.
Nearly $750,000 in savings will be gained by moving the school's Buildings Services and Grounds employees to a private contract with Sodexo.
However, Ransdell said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon that none of those employees will lose their jobs.
“Each employee, the 202 in our BSA work group and our grounds crew, will receive a dollar-an-hour raise,” Ransdell told reporters. “Their compensation will go from $9.26 an hour to $10.26 an hour, so they’re getting nearly a ten-percent pay increase.”
While no filled faculty positions are being cut, the university plans to save $942,000 by “strategically” eliminating certain vacant faculty positions.
Provost David Lee says those cuts will be determined by a plan that classifies academic positions as either Phase One or Phase Two. Phase One positions are considered critical, while Phase Two jobs are potentially expendable.
“And in this particular case, all of the deans knew from the beginning of the staffing plan process, than anything that went into Phase Two, there was a good chance they would lose,” Lee said.
Despite the budget cuts, WKU is providing full-time employees a 3 percent raise that will be phased in over 12 months. Employees will receive 1 percent raises on July 1, 2016; January 1, 2017; and July 1, 2017.
Six track and field programs will have their budgets reduced. The school is also consolidating its Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility and the ALIVE Center, which connects volunteers with local non-profit groups.
The budget includes a tuition increase of about $215 per semester, in line with the hike approved by the Council for Post-secondary Education Tuesday. Also, a tuition surcharge of $21 per credit hour will be implemented for online courses taken by full-time undergraduate students.