Board of Regents plans to vote on new budget, tiered salary reduction plan in special meeting

Leo Bertucci

The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic might be felt by the WKU community if the Board of Regents chooses to approve tiered salary reductions and a new operating budget for the upcoming year on June 26 at 9 a.m.

The meeting will be conducted on Zoom, but in-person attendees will gather inside of Van Meter Auditorium. A livestream of the meeting will be broadcast on YouTube.

The proposed budget, which would become active on July 1 if approved, will be smaller than the current budget at a rate of 9 percent. The total budget for the next fiscal year is expected to $353,210,347 while the 2019-20 budget is set at $387,762,000, which means that the budget is expected to shrink by over $34.5 million.

Altogether, the five academic colleges and the academic support units are expected to experience a total budget reduction of $5,506,820. Of the five academic colleges, the Potter College of Arts and Letters is expected to receive the most significant reduction at $1,345,427. The smallest reduction is expected to be attributed to the Gordon Ford College of Business at $472,231.

Non-academic units are expected to take on budget reductions as well. For instance, WKU Athletics’ budget reduction is currently slated to be at $1,060,834. Enrollment and Student Experience might experience a budget reduction of $241,507 and the Strategy, Operations, and Finance department could have their budget reduced by $1,304,093.

WKU is expecting to lose approximately $11.4 million of tuition revenue in the upcoming fiscal year. According to the Board of Regents budget report, WKU might have to bear an approximate net tuition loss of 15 percent “largely due to the increase in institutional scholarships for first year freshmen students”.

The other financial item awaiting approval is a tiered salary reduction plan that will cut approximately $2.4 million of faculty and staff income altogether. Faculty and staff who are paid more than $50,000 would be affected by the plan. In a May 15 Board of Regents meeting, WKU President Timothy Caboni recommended that the university increase the budget cuts of its departments rather than impose the tiered salary reduction plan.

“It seems to me that [tiered salary reductions] is just something the campus was not interested in,” Caboni said during the meeting.

The tiered salary reductions resurfaced on May 23 when Caboni announced that the tiered reductions would be part of a revised budget plan.

Following the conclusion of the special budget approval meeting, two Board of Regents committees will gather in a meeting that will be livestreamed on YouTube. The Academic Affairs committee will vote to approve graduate degrees in data analytics and cybersecurity data analytics, as well as an undergraduate degree in floodplain management. The Finance and Budget committee will vote to approve recent personnel actions.