Still awaiting their most recent round of budget cuts, Kansas University administrators told an audience Wednesday to continue to expect difficult cuts in the future.
Having already eliminated 200 positions — some of which came through layoffs — KU now faces another cut from the state, along with grim projections continuing through 2011.
Kip Peterson, a spokesman for the Kansas Board of Regents, said the board will determine during its Dec. 16-17 meeting how much each institution will have to absorb of the recently announced $2 million higher education cut.
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the cuts have far-reaching implications, and have affected the university’s pursuit of National Cancer Institute designation.
“To the extent that our ability to hire faculty is diminished by the cuts, then our ability to recruit people who can build up our research program — that’s the way in which it will have a negative effect on our cancer program,” Gray-Little said after a forum Wednesday that focused on the university’s financial situation.
KU hasn’t yet received its most recent target for budget cuts following the November budget reductions, so no new cuts were announced Wednesday. However, KU leaders did provide some insight into how ongoing cuts may be made, to go along with the already larger class sizes and fewer class sections currently in place at KU.
• Marking a change from previous budget sessions, Danny Anderson, KU’s interim provost, said that the situation now required KU to examine its degree programs along with other academic support and business programs for possible reductions, eliminations or reorganizations. He said it had been 17 years since KU last identified programs that were no longer meeting its needs.
• Though administrators said no furloughs were needed under current assumptions about the budget, KU announced a policy Wednesday showing how they might be implemented. The policy said that those employees making higher salaries would shoulder more of the burden, but said any specifics would be determined by how much money must be cut from the university’s budget.
• The university will continue to examine how tuition increases can mitigate some budget cuts, but will do so looking at factors such as whether tuition increases could mean fewer students would attend KU.
On the Lawrence campus — even before upcoming cuts are taken into account — the university is dealing with less money than it had in the 2006 fiscal year.
Kathy Damron, KU’s state lobbyist, said that there has been a shift in recent weeks as legislators begin to talk about ways to increase state revenue, rather than just focusing on new ways to cut.
“I think you’re going to see a state Legislature that will look at everything again next year,” she said.
Shawn Saving, a GIS specialist with the Kansas Geological Survey, after the forum argued for legislators to hold the line on education funding.
“You can’t continue to cut education, which is — as the governor seems to agree — is the basis for what’s going to be our economic rejuvenation,” Saving said. “This is what will get us out of this, and you can’t go cutting the very thing that’s going to help us actually get our economy back together.”
Like others at the forum, Saving said he thought that KU administrators had been open and forthcoming about the strategies they were trying to implement.
Betty Pickerel, an administrative assistant with the Global Indigenous Nations Studies program at KU, also praised university administrators.
“These people are very transparent and very helpful,” she said. “I think they’ve taken very important steps to alleviate concerns.”
Still, she said, previous cuts have been painful.
“I know there are people who have found work, and people who haven’t,” after some KU employees were laid off, she said. “For those who haven’t, it’s hard.”