Archive for Thursday, March 14, 2002

Reductions ordered as part of state budget crisis

March 14, 2002

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— The University of Nebraska-Lincoln plans to eliminate 70 staff and faculty jobs to help cut $8 million from its budget, Chancellor Harvey Perlman announced Wednesday.

The cuts are needed because of reductions ordered last fall during a special legislative session to deal with the state budget crisis.

The university still faces more cuts as lawmakers deal with a deepening shortfall in the state budget.

"We may be called upon to go through this process again," Perlman said. "I am hopeful that, if required, we will all continue our efforts to get through this difficult time with the least possible damage to our university."

Perlman said the cuts are "painful but necessary in light of the economic conditions.

"I didn't want to reduce anything," he said. "This was not my choice."

Of the positions being eliminated, 17 will be done through layoffs. The school will try to replace funding for the other positions with private donations, grants or other sources.

"These recommendations will not strengthen the university but I believe they will not permanently weaken it either," he said in a statement also sent to faculty and staff.

Lawmakers met in a special session last fall to trim $171 million from the state's $5.5 billion, two-year budget after the slowing economy caused tax revenues to drop dramatically.

The state's cuts included $11 million from the university system's budget. Besides UNL, the system includes campuses in Omaha and Kearney and the medical center in Omaha.

Lawmakers are now wrestling with more cuts, as the deficit has ballooned to $226 million.

Gov. Mike Johanns now is calling for cutting 3 percent, or more than $13 million, from the NU system's budget for 2002-2003. UNL's share of those proposed cuts has yet to be determined.

Perlman also said faculty and staff will have to take smaller pay raises next year. The campus budget can accommodate salary increases of 4.56 percent, not the 4.8 percent proposed in February, Perlman said.

The February figure was down from 6.3 percent originally planned for faculty raises.

Other cost savings were found through merging departments and duties throughout the Lincoln campus.

For example, when Merlin Lawson steps down as the dean of Graduate Studies, his office will merge with the Office of Research Affairs and Graduate Studies.

The Academic Affairs budget will be reduced by more than 2 percent, about $3 million.

The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources will reduce its budget by more than 2 percent, or $1.5 million. The proposed cuts are spread across the institute's teaching, research and extension missions.

Perlman exempted some areas from cuts, including the school's Office of Admissions and Recruitment, its Honors Program and services for students with disabilities.

The NU Board of Regents must approve the cuts.

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