KU plans to cut roughly $20 million from Lawrence campus budget in upcoming fiscal year

photo by: Richard Gwin

Students move along Jayhawk Boulevard on the KU campus between classes on Wednesday January 27, 2016.

The University of Kansas announced on Tuesday plans to trim $20 million from its Lawrence campus budget for fiscal year 2019.

The cuts amount to a roughly 5.9 percent reduction across all Lawrence campus departments and units, including central administration. The budget will be implemented July 1, the start of the next fiscal year.

“The map to move us forward readjusts our budget to meet our obligations and helps us put our students, staff and faculty first,” Carl Lejuez, interim provost and executive vice chancellor, said in a press release. “This includes a commitment to keep tuition increases as low as possible and to enact a plan for getting back to annual merit raises, even if small at first.”

Lejuez has already met with deans and vice provosts to discuss the budget reductions and how to maintain the “mission and core function” of their respective departments in the midst of these cuts, according to KU’s press release. All departments and units across the Lawrence campus, including central administration, will be equally impacted by the budget reductions.

It’s unclear if the cuts will result in any layoffs. When asked this question via email, KU spokesman Joe Monaco indicated such decisions would be determined in talks between the provost’s office and deans and vice provosts.

In the release, KU attributed the need for budget reductions to “the many long-term commitments and investments that each year have exceeded revenue,” combined with institutional budgeting practices “inconsistent with the current challenges of higher education funding,” along with a decade-long downtrend in state funding.

The press release did not provide any examples of these commitments, investments and budgeting practices, however.

When asked why the Lawrence campus was being asked to implement the cuts and not KU’s other locations, such as the KU Medical Center and Overland Park’s Edwards campus, Monaco said in an email that “the Lawrence/Edwards budget is separate from the KU Medical Center budget.” He did not indicate whether the Edwards campus or other KU sites, such as the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson, would be impacted.

“Staying the current course is not an option,” Lejuez said in a statement. “If we make no changes in the coming year, we will have overspent our budget with no remaining balances to support this overspending, and operations will be short a minimum of $50 million within five years. Additionally, spreading the cut over several years is not an option. This tactic costs us more financially; perpetuates a climate of uncertainty about job security, raises and tuition costs; and keeps us in a constant state of want and need rather than advancing us toward a position of stability that we all deserve.”

KU’s Office of the Provost has already begun working on a longer-term plan that includes the development of a new budget model, according to the press release. In his statements, Lejuez said KU leadership is confident that the new measures, combined with “existing positives” — including partial budget restorations from the Kansas Legislature and relatively stable enrollment figures — will lead to “quick recovery and sustainability” in the years ahead.

“I have spent a great deal of time with Provost Lejuez and other KU leaders evaluating our budget and projecting our needs and goals for the coming years,” Chancellor Douglas Girod said in the press release. “This year’s budget reduction will be difficult, but combined with a new budget model, this is the right strategy to address our challenges and put us in a position to fully align our resources with our core mission. I applaud Provost Lejuez and his team for their vision and leadership, and I am confident KU will be a stronger university for having gone through this process.”