Kansas University leaders faced more than 100 faculty and staff members Friday in an effort to open a dialogue about ongoing state budget cuts.
Members of the crowd expressed concern about job security and benefits during an hourlong forum in the Kansas Union.
They also pondered what the recent job cuts would mean for their workloads. On Wednesday, KU announced that 11 staffed positions and 110 unstaffed positions would be eliminated.
Chancellor Robert Hemenway replied “everything is on the table” for future cuts if necessary. For now, he said employee benefits shouldn’t change.
Despite the state budget crisis, Hemenway said KU would continue to focus on its academic and research missions.
“We’re not going to be brought down to a state of total disarray because we’ve had to make some hard decisions,” Hemenway said.
Steve Warren, vice provost for research and graduate studies, said KU would be affected by the $32 million in funding cuts to the Kansas Bioscience Authority. That’s because it provides funding for KU research.
Besides the personnel cuts, Hemenway said KU expected to save about $9 million by being more efficient. That includes efforts such as producing the faculty and staff newsletter online only, turning down thermostats and reducing travel budgets.
Pam Burkhead, an employee in human relations, attended the forum, and said she appreciated university leaders discussing the situation and dispelling any rumors circulating among its employees.
“I appreciate them taking the time to do it,” she said. “They’re trying to battle the budget and work hard to keep us sane.”
The meeting on the Lawrence campus comes on the heels of a similar meeting this week at KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., with administrators and faculty. Leaders answered the handful of questions given by the crowd or sent by e-mail.
Often, leaders said they simply lacked the knowledge of what the Legislature would do next to provide specific answers to questions.