K-State colleges and departments are struggling to meet immediate one-time budget cuts this semester while anticipating even greater permanent reductions in July.
The statewide budget reduction process has two components, said Bruce Shubert, vice president for administration and finance. First, the university needs to meet an immediate reduction of funds for the current fiscal year. Second, K-State is planning for further cuts starting next fiscal year in July.
“We do not know what our final reduction amount is,” Shubert said.
The university is working through the process in a decentralized manner, Shubert said. The administration distributed budget reduction targets to university units and colleges. These units, in turn, determine specifics needed to meet the targets.
The College of Arts and Sciences, for example, has activated departmental committees on planning and prorated a certain percentage of money to pull from various departments and return to the college, said Stephen White, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“We have done our best to look at areas that are reasonable in terms of being able to take budget cuts,” White said. “It has been a challenge, and we are working on it day by day and step by step.”
The college consists of 28 departments, all of which contributed to the deficit problem by cutting funding from a mixture of sources, White said. Some departments reduced instructional dollars, support for graduate teaching assistants and the number of GTA positions.
The main goal of the college has remained to “protect students and balance out reductions in a way that will be equitable in terms of different departments,” White said.
While the College of Arts and Sciences has already returned a certain percentage of funding, it now faces further reductions, which have increased the budget cut from 7 to 10 percent, White said.
“The expectation has grown,” White said. “We are in the process of pulling additional funding.”
The biology department, one of the separate units in the College of Arts and Sciences, had to return more than $100,000 from the current budget, said Brian Spooner, director of the division of biology.
Spooner said the department has been giving back money that was specified for graduate student salary, temporary faculty salary, teaching equipment and faculty research money. It has cut back on temporary faculty positions and graduate students pay in the summer. However, Spooner said the department is looking for other ways to fund its graduate students.
The department’s prospects for the next fiscal year remain unknown.
“I do not know what will happen next year,” Spooner said. “We still need to return more money this spring.”
The College of Veterinary Medicine has reallocated the funds that it receives from the state to solely support its teaching mission, assure its courses are funded and basic office operations can continue, said Ralph Richardson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.
“All remaining funds will go toward rescission and lack of allocation for the next year,” Richardson said.
Thus, Richardson said the college has eliminated unfilled faculty and staff positions, increased its dependency on revenue generated through services provided by the teaching hospital and diagnostic laboratory, become more reliant on grants and contracts and increased its fundraising efforts through the KSU Foundation.
Richardson said he also called back funds from all operating units of the college, such as academic departments, the library and business office, to help meet the current immediate budget cut, which amounts to 4.25 percent.
“We are planning for an additional 8-percent cut for the next fiscal year,” Richardson said. “We recognize that we may need to cut further, but we do not have current plans for that.”
The College of Engineering has been handling immediate budget cuts by putting a freeze on hiring new people for the open faculty positions, said Gary Clark, senior associate dean of the College of Engineering.
Individual departments returned funds to the college, the majority of which came from their operating dollars. The departments have cut back on making purchases, hiring temporary help and travel and become more reliant on their overhead dollars from sources other than the state of Kansas, Clark said.
The initial budget cut for the College of Engineering was 3 percent, and the cut has been further increased to more than 4 percent. While the current budget cut is a one-time measure, the new reductions anticipated in July will be long-term permanent cuts, Clark said.
“Nobody in the state knows what that new budget cut will be,” Clark said. “Numbers are going all over the place.”
The College of Education has a plan in place to provide a one-time 3-percent budget cut, said Virginia Mixer, administrative assistant to the dean of the college. The college plans to meet the reduction by withdrawing money from faculty salaries that are currently in reserves and from fringe benefits. Plans have been made to cut $5,000 from diversity operating funds and $2,300 from diversity mentoring funds, Mixer said.
While the budget cuts have been a difficult process, K-State colleges remain committed to their overarching goals.
“Whatever we do, our first priority is our educational progress,” said Clark.
Budget Cut Open Forum in the Union today
– 11 to 11:45 a.m. today in the K-State Student Union Courtyard.
– This event is free and open to the public. All students are encouraged to attend to learn more about future budget cuts and voice their opinions and/or concerns.
– If you are unable to attend, but would like to provide input, you can fill-out an online survey on fiscal priorities for K-State by visiting online.ksu.edu/Survey/take/takeSurvey.