$2,139,000 GONE: Proposed budget cuts make key programs disappear

WKU’s budget staff is moving forward now that decisions have been made regarding budget cuts for the coming fiscal year.

The cuts were announced in an email from President Ransdell on Wednesday.

Ann Mead, vice president for Finance and Administration, said in an email that “no budget reduction, small or large, is easy.”  

“After a series of budget reductions, our choices of where to make cuts, given a goal to protect positions, have become even more limited,” she said. “Administrative council discussed proposed budget reductions and recognized that there are pros and cons to each of the reductions. However, as a package of reductions, it’s a reasonable response to our financial challenges.”

She said she believes these cuts are final.

Mead also said they tried to present the cuts in a straightforward manner.

“What may not be as clear is in some circumstances funding for a specific program or activity is being reduced, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a reduction in the program or activity,” she said.

Approximately 91 percent of the budget reductions have been identified and will be implemented with the new fiscal year that begins in July, Mead said.

“We, however, have approximately $200,000 that needs to be reduced from the budget or funded with one-time funds,” she said. “We are evaluating additional ways to achieve efficiency, but it will not include layoffs or elimination of academic programs.”

The single greatest item on the list of budget reductions is the elimination of recurring funds for the Provost’s Initiatives for Excellence awards.

PIE allows academic programs to submit proposals for new initiatives and then receive funding from the provost’s office to see the initiatives through.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said while there will not be money directly set aside for PIE in the budget, the program will exist.

“Many of the initiatives that would have been funded by that program we hope will continue to be funded from other sources, from this office or from the other colleges,” Emslie said.

According to the proposed budget cuts, the ALIVE Center and and the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility will merge. Ransdell said there’s no reason they can’t work together for a common purpose.

“It’s just a lot more efficient to merge those units and then we can save some money by doing so,” he said.

Merging the two centers will save the university $80,000.

The budget is being reduced for Research and Creative Activity Program grants as well.

“We do push research a lot, but our research numbers are not going up and it was the consensus of the group that it would not have a harmful effect if we reduced the funding for that particular program,” he said.

WKU’s property in Radcliff will be closed. It primarily served Fort Knox, but will have some of its functions moved to Fort Knox.

“As the education center that we will share with Hardin County Schools opens next year, it will reduce the need for the center in Radcliff,” he said.

Money will also be coming out of the Division of Extended Learning and Outreach’s budget and go toward the overall university budget.

“That’s more of a revenue enhancement than a budget cut,” he said.

Because of the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI), an inflation index that calculates potential financial waste at colleges, certain departments usually get an automatic budget increase.

Programs which have benefited from the HEPI in the past include the Student Government Association, the athletics department, Student Technology, Health Services and student centers. Now, they will not be getting those increases.     

However, Ransdell said 95 percent of the campus departments are unaffected by the cuts.

“We also protected everybody’s salary,” he said. “Nobody, as the result of these actions, had a salary reduction. We also stuck to our pledge to refrain from having across the board cuts.”