Budget cuts to be announced tomorrow

Shawntaye Hopkins

A special meeting will determine the fate of both campus programs and campus parking.

The Board of Regents will meet tomorrow in a called meeting to discuss Western’s plan for cutting $5.6 million from its budget.

Plans for a new parking structure will also be finalized at this meeting.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher has ordered $64 million in cuts to higher education.

President Gary Ransdell was unable to give specifics about budget plans yesterday afternoon, but did discuss the process and general plans.

“I would have liked to have handled the entire cut without getting into departmental budgets, but that’s not going to be possible,” he said.

No major, minor, program or department will be eliminated, Ransdell said.

But some will have their budgets cut, he said.

“Because of cuts in recent years, we don’t have departments and programs that are completely expendable,” Ransdell said.

Academic and administrative programs will have to be cut if Western experiences any future cuts, he said.

The cuts were also able to be made without cutting positions already filled, he said. Some vacant positions will be cut.

A number of changes in the management of some campus procedures will create revenue to meet the budget cut and generate more money for the future, Ransdell said.

“We will come out of this with a range of policy actions that will make us a more efficient university,” he said.

It is possible that some of the cuts could have happened without the pressure of meeting budget cuts, he said.

“But without the pressure of the budget scenario, I don’t know that we would have probed and analyzed every aspect of our financial structure,” he said.

Ransdell said the university vice presidents and deans were objective in looking at budgets, but the process was still not easy.

“I knew, when I learned the dollar amount, that it was going to be a difficult process,” he said.

Provost Barbara Burch agreed.

“There is never a process of having to cut budgets that is an easy one,” she said.

But the cuts were made thoughtfully and comprehensively, Burch said.

All of the cuts were made to ensure the university’s goal of maintaining programs and campus integrity, she said.

“The process was done as well as anybody could have done it,” Burch said.

Although the budget plans don’t require formal approval from the Board of Regents, he will enlist their agreement in the matter anyway, Ransdell said.

Also at the meeting, Facilities Management will give a second presentation on the parking structure.

Several of the regents had concerns about the plan for the parking structure at the last meeting on Jan. 27.

Western is planning to build a new parking structure between Smith Stadium and Diddle Arena, and making needed changes to the current parking structure.

Some of the concerns regarded aesthetic changes to the old structure, a green space being added, the number of spaces the new structure would create and the location of the new structure.

John Osborne, vice president of campus services and facilities, said they have met with consultants since the last meeting to review concerns of regents.

“We intend to go to the board on Friday with additional information and clarification that we feel should allow this project to proceed,” Osborne said.

The first phase of the structure is expected to begin on May 10. The second phase, which will involve closing the Diddle parking lot, is expected to begin this fall.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]