Budget stabilization plan released, 30 positions eliminated across WKU

President Caboni addresses members of the media on May 3. to provide updates on the university budget cuts.

Emily DeLetter

President Timothy Caboni has released the budget stabilization plan, which will eliminate 10 filled staff positions and 20 currently vacant positions, cutting an estimated $14 million from the budget.

This is the second phase of budget cuts for WKU. The first round brought reductions of $15 million and the loss of 120 jobs.

Caboni said once implemented, total reductions after the first round were over $13 million.

Three strategies were employed for the budget stabilization: reduce division and college budgets by $5.6 million, $5.2 million through savings captured from the hiring slowdown that began last fall, and capture $3.5 million in carry-forward funds.

“The core tenets we followed were to protect campus units most closely associated with student recruitment, enrollment and success,” Caboni said. “We wanted to shield our academic programs. We also did not further reduce units in a way that would jeopardize their primary functions.”

Caboni said they followed the same methods adopted by the budget council, and relied on leaders at the division, dean, department head and manager levels to construct plans for their specific areas.

“Our phase two process was intentionally developed—it was not top down,” Caboni said.

Considering WKU’s declining enrollment, Caboni said the personal experience students receive, cost of attendance, and total college experience that WKU provides should lead to a “rebound in enrollment.”

As the international enrollment has also decreased, efforts have been made to encompass global learning, including the hiring of a new assistant vice provost.

Under the first strategy, the offices of Admissions, Registrar, Financial Aid and Student Advising will be merged into the Division of Student Affairs. A new Division of Enrollment and Student Experience will be created, which Caboni said will serve as an “innovative model…as we link the functions that are focused on student recruitment and those concerned with student life.”

Effective immediately, the Office of Sustainability will move from its current home under Facilities Management to the Division of Enrollment and Student Experience. This transition will not provide any specific savings to WKU.

As current Vice President for Information Technology Gordon Johnson retires, the oversight of IT will shift to the assistant vice president, who will report to the both Vice President of Finance and Administration Ann Mead and President Caboni.

A total of 30 positions will be eliminated under this first strategy, which include 10 filled staff positions and 20 vacant positions, and the move of eight non-tenured faculty positions to temporary funds. Employees whose positions were eliminated will receive full pay and benefits through June 30.

“As difficult as it is to eliminate 10 filled and 20 unfilled positions, we remember this is much, much smaller than the reductions we made in February,” Caboni said.

Caboni said he did not expect any other positions to be cut following these, and it was the “end of a difficult and painful year for the institution and everyone involved.”

A detailed list of positions eliminated will be provided once all personnel actions are completed.

“The WKU community has reacted and responded to [budget reductions] remarkably well, both supporting one another, supporting this institution and continuing to engage in educating and supporting our students,” Caboni said. “I’m proud of the entire community.”

The second strategy included the hiring slowdown that initially began during the fall of 2017 and will continue through the next fiscal year. All new vacancies will continue to be reviewed and approved by the personnel actions approval committee.

Under the third strategy, WKU continues to revise the budget model and will use institutional carry-forward funds one final time as a step down to the new funding model, which will begin July 1, 2019.

News reporter Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @EmilyDeLetter.