Chancellor’s office still mum on budget cuts that Girod says he’s made

photo by: Carter Gaskins

University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod speaks during a town hall forum about budget cuts on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018 in Eaton Hall on campus.

More than 24 hours after Chancellor Douglas Girod told a University of Kansas crowd he already had made significant budget cuts to his department, his office still was not releasing details about the cuts.

At a Monday town hall meeting to discuss a proposal to cut approximately $20 million from the budget of KU’s Lawrence campus, Girod said he already had made a cut in excess of 10 percent to his office’s budget. The 10 percent figure is significant because it is higher than the approximately 6 percent cut that most departments on the Lawrence campus are being asked to make.

But Girod provided no details about the cuts he has made, and the chancellor’s public affairs office on Tuesday said it was unable to immediately provide information about the cuts.

The Journal-World began asking on Friday about whether the chancellor had completed his work of making cuts to the budgets he directly oversees. The Journal-World was told that information would not be available prior to Monday’s university forum about the budget cuts. On Tuesday, a public affairs spokeswoman said she was continuing to seek information, and might have details to share on Wednesday.

The Journal-World has asked for information about all cuts Girod may have ordered — not just cuts that were made to the chancellor’s office itself. Based on budget documents, it appears that Girod is the designated “budget manager” for several departments other than the chancellor’s office.

Those include the Dole Institute of Politics, the university’s Office of General Counsel, KU’s division of Aviation Services and the Intercollegiate Athletics Fund, which is the account used to provide university-wide money to Kansas Athletics Inc.

Both Aviation Services and the Intercollegiate Athletics Fund have drawn criticism from members of the university community who believe KU’s budget cut directive is misguided. Faculty Senate President Kirk McClure has called on the university to sell its jet, which would decrease the amount of money needed in the aviation services budget. He’s also called on the university to eliminate a $1.5 million payment it provides to Kansas Athletics Inc. Instead, he thinks the athletics department ought to make a $1.5 million payment to the general university.

On Tuesday, McClure said he was growing concerned that university leaders were not providing information about cuts being made. While he said he would like to know the cuts made in the chancellor’s office, he said he particularly wants to see which cuts are being made in academic units across the campus.

“I want a promise of full disclosure on these cuts,” McClure said.

McClure said he hadn’t yet received such assurances from university leaders.

“A year from now, I think we are all going to be fighting for full disclosure about how each unit made their cuts,” McClure said.

In question with the departments overseen by the chancellor is whether reductions will be made to the athletic fund. At a meeting in June, Girod, when questioned by the Journal-World, said that the money provided to the athletics department from the university would be subject to the same 5.8 percent cut that other departments face. However, he said the athletic department wouldn’t be required to cut its entire $100 million budget by 6 percent. He said that’s because most of the athletic department’s budget comes from outside sources, such as ticket sales, donors or conference television revenue.

Girod’s explanation created some expectations that the $1.5 million that Kansas Athletics Inc. receives from the university could be subject to a cut. However, upon review of the KU budget, that document actually shows that the total amount of money the university provides to Kansas Athletics Inc. was about $3.2 million, according to the fiscal year 2018 budget. About $1.5 million of that money was largely from tuition, and another $316,000 was from student fees designated for athletics. But more than $1 million came from a restricted fees, general use account.

The Journal-World asked for clarification about those funds and whether they would be subject to a budget reduction. The Journal-World also asked for clarification about why it generally is reported that Kansas Athletics Inc. receives $1.5 million from the university when the budget lists a $3.2 million amount.

A spokeswoman with the public affairs office said on Friday that the office needed more time to research that issue.

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