WKU must make budget reductions

Caitlin Carter

WKU administrators have been crunching numbers recently.

On June 30, the federal stimulus funds that WKU — and other colleges and universities across the state — had been receiving through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will expire.

While the state legislature is working to replace those funds, WKU will still face a budget reduction next year.

Ann Mead, vice president for Finance and Administration, said WKU is preparing for a budget reduction of about $2.3 million for the 2011-2012 school year.

WKU has been more fortunate than other universities that are facing budget reductions during tough economic times, she said.

“Some universities must decrease costs by so much that I don’t see how they’re still open,” Mead said.

In total, $97.4 billion in stimulus money was awarded from the Recovery Act to educators across the country, according to ed.gov.

WKU received $5.4 million in stimulus funds through the act, Mead said.

To compensate for the loss of the stimulus money, budget reductions must be made, Mead said.

Robbin Taylor, vice president for Public Affairs, said WKU must look at the situation plainly as a budget reduction.

“We’re not doing anything to prepare for the end of stimulus funding,” Taylor said. “We’re preparing to reduce our budgets by that amount.”

The $2.3 million reduction must be prorated across the major departments to determine what amount specifically each will lose, Mead said.

The largest reduction must come from Academic Affairs at about $1.5 million, she said.

Mead said the reductions must be made by July 1.

Budget reductions of between $1.6 million and $2 million are common for WKU, she said.

But there have been years where the university budget has been reduced by more than $4 million, she said.

Taylor said late last month that careful thought and consideration must go into reducing the budget.

“As an administrative council, we just got our numbers a week ago — our final numbers a week ago — so we’ll probably spend the next three to four weeks making decisions on what those cuts are going to look like,” Taylor said.

Mead said WKU’s administrative council will reconvene in mid-February to discuss the proposed budget reductions for each department.

She said there must be agreement that the reductions for each are feasible at the meeting.

“We have to think, ‘What if the economy tanked and the state couldn’t restore these funds?’” Mead said.