The Board of Regents at Western Kentucky University has passed a budget that trims $27 million in costs, amid uncertainty from the coronavirus.
WKU is expecting its largest freshman class in 18 years this fall, which would have helped offset an overall decline in enrollment and tuition, but the school had to make further budget adjustments once the pandemic hit in March.
The 2020-21 budget approved in a special called meeting on Friday includes salary reductions for faculty and staff earning more than $50,000 annually, as well as freezes on travel and hiring. The budget of more than $353 million represents a nine percent decline over the previous spending plan.
Faculty Regent Claus Ernst said he feels academic units are bearing the brunt of the sacrifices by taking on additional workloads as the university prepares to restart under the pandemic.
“Faculty overall is willing to do what it takes, so make the accommodations for these courses, but there’s a lot of anxiety," Ernst said. "There are some faculty members where this anxiety is frustration turning into anger.”
WKU’s Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the university chapter of the American Association of University Professors released a statement on Thursday demanding a greater voice in reopening plans.
Faculty members say they want final say on how their courses are taught and workloads that aren’t excessive. They’re also seeking regular COVID-19 testing on campus and assurances of no job losses.