UW President Details University's Financial Crisis

Jun 24, 2016

The Old Main on the University of Wyoming's campus.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols brought together faculty and staff Wednesday to discuss the financial crisis she declared last week at the university.

At the meeting, President Nichols detailed how the university plans to cut about $30 million over the next two years. In her plan, Nichols said the university will raise tuition by 4 percent—and eliminate 70 vacancies throughout campus. Around 50 faculty and staff will also have to voluntarily retire for the university to save enough money.

Some faculty and staff, though, have their doubts about the plan. History Professor Renee Laegreid said she appreciates Nichols’ honesty, but would like to see more details on parts of the budget that are still up in the air.

“I mean whether we like it or not, she’s telling us how she envisions us to get out of this crisis. And I’m very grateful for her for that,” Laegreid said. “On the other hand, I want to know more where the money is allocated.”

Associate English Professor Kelly Kineey said she is concerned Nichols is not thinking about the ways to keep faculty long-term.

“I also hear an undercurrent of moving more toward part-time, un-benefited faculty. I think that is a bad move. I mean, I certainly understand the pressures, but as a faculty member I would advise strongly against it,” Kineey said.

Nichols also announced a new committee of faculty, staff and students that will help deal with the university’s financial crisis.

The university plans to cut $10 million from their budget for Fiscal Year 2018. Nichols said she is worried that future low revenue projections for the state may mean even more budget cuts for the university.

“Are we gearing ourselves up for more? Perhaps we are by doing this, because nobody said we have to stop at $10 [million],” Nichols said. “We can actually go ahead and cut $20 million. And we might end up doing that. I’m not sure that won’t happen as we move forward.”

Multiple departments throughout the university gave significant cash reserves to help with the budget shortfall, including $500,000 from the President’s Office.

A little under 40 programs are under review to be modified or even eliminated. The first meeting for the newly formed financial crisis committee will be June 28.