Archive for Saturday, January 24, 2009

With KU budget options, ‘everything is on the table’

Job security, benefits, workload at issue

Chris Anderson, associate professor of business at Kansas University, addresses a question to a panel during a legislative forum at KU. Faculty and staff were invited to question Chancellor Robert Hemenway and other KU officials about budget issues.

Chris Anderson, associate professor of business at Kansas University, addresses a question to a panel during a legislative forum at KU. Faculty and staff were invited to question Chancellor Robert Hemenway and other KU officials about budget issues.

January 24, 2009


With KU budget options, ‘everything is on the table’

KU's financial future took center stage on Friday during a forum on campus. Enlarge video

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.


Rickyonealku 9 years, 4 months ago

Things like newspapers aka news letters online are a very good move and like a lot of people I have had my office location in my house for over 6 years now trying to cut down on my office over head. The future employment could have some KU staffers paying out of pocket expenses just to stay employed. Things are going to get worse before they get better. You know part-time time employment is better than unemployed.

fu7il3 9 years, 4 months ago

There are more blue collar citizens working at KU than any other place in town. There is a lot more to the university than administration and faculty.

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 4 months ago

KU should use this as an opportunity to cast off shiftless, lay-about faculty.Most KU faculty are dedicated and hard-working, but every department has "dead wood", faculty who do no research and little teaching, and what they do is done badly.Tenure allows these lazy-arses to suck on the university teat with giving nothing back. Tenured faculty can be fired based upon a continued history of underperformance.If salary cuts or position cuts are required, the janitorial and service staff should be spared. Every employee making over, say $50,000 a year should take a salary cut.

Shardwurm 9 years, 4 months ago

"Let the over paid administrators and the prima dona sacred cows within “academia” step forward and give back just as the blue collar citizen has done….."I'm with Pogo. The cost to retain these egos isn't worth it. Hell, most of them don't even teach their own classes anyway. They all should be wearing masks and carrying guns since they're robbing us blind. Higher Education is the biggest scam in the country, and it's getting to the point where middle-class families are going to have to pick one of their children to go to college because that is all they can afford to send.

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 4 months ago

Most professors at KU do indeed teach large classes. However, there are some high-profile examples where this is not the case. Notably in the humanities, particularly English, where lecturers and grad students teach most of the big intro classes while the professors teach very small, specialized courses (e.g. Gay women in Shakespearian literature).Most of the natural and social sciences have professors teaching large intro classes as well as specialized classes.

gccs14r 9 years, 4 months ago

Most of you have no idea what you're talking about, but that's not atypical. You see a class schedule and think a professor is working six hours a week. You don't see that they're actually working 10 hour days, often seven days a week, 12 months out of the year. You see an average faculty salary figure and forget that Hemenway and his staff are considered part of the faculty, skewing the average, and that there is a huge difference between science faculty pay and arts and humanities pay. You see academic conferences and research travel, but don't know that the professors pay for most of that out of pocket. As a final point, those who teach our children are second only to parents in importance to the success of society. As a nation, we're already far behind academically. Reducing our commitment to education will only make that situation worse.

gccs14r 9 years, 4 months ago

You would have us be a nation of ditch-diggers. It's far better to have an educated workforce that can create tools to dig ditches, or even better, make ditches superfluous. For better or worse, we now compete directly and on equal footing with everyone else on this planet for a basic livelihood. The only way forward is through improved education. Most people understand that, but apparently not all Americans do.

davidsmom 9 years, 4 months ago

Does KU have an online suggestion box for ways to save money? I work at UMKC and we have least they are willing to take a look at employees' ideas and find out what the employees are thinking...however, Gov. Nixon announced that higher ed. in MO wouldn't be cut this upcoming fiscal year if they promised not to raise tuition and required fees. Maybe Kansas and KU need to look at what their neighbors are doing...

Phillbert 9 years, 4 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront: "I am with yourworstnightmare. $50,000 a year is sufficient for anyone to live on." I look forward to seeing your letters in the paper calling for a 100% tax on all income above $50,000.

Thinking_Out_Loud 9 years, 4 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront wrote "Let's bring back the draft...."No, let's not.

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