KU says it will publish details about $20M in budget cuts; Faculty Senate vows to be ‘watchdog’
photo by: Carter Gaskins
As angst grows among some employees, a University of Kansas leader has promised to soon publish details related to $20 million in mandated budget cuts at KU.
“Everything will be published,” interim Provost Carl Lejuez said Thursday. He hopes to have a list of budget cuts and adjustments broken down by department or unit at the next town-hall meeting later this month. A date for that meeting should be set early next week.
Some faculty previously had expressed concerns that the university wasn’t going to provide a detailed list of budget cuts and adjustments.
Lejuez spoke to the Journal-World following the University Senate’s first meeting of the semester Thursday in Green Hall.
The University Senate is a shared system of governance made up of the Faculty Senate, Unclassified Senate, University Support Senate and the Student Senate. While University Senate can make suggestions to the administration, the ultimate legal authority rests with Chancellor Douglas Girod.
So far, Lejuez says he is seeing very few actual cuts from various units to meet the mandate that 5.8 percent be cut from this year’s base operating budgets on the Lawrence campus. Instead, he is seeing departments using carry-forward money, which is a type of reserve fund that many departments have. Lejuez said the real cuts would come with the base reductions in next year’s budget. University officials have said the use of reserve funds generally wouldn’t be an acceptable budget-cutting strategy in next year’s budget.
While some schools and departments have carry-over in savings to make the cut to their budgets, some smaller schools don’t have that luxury, said Lorie Williams, a Faculty Senate member and a lecturer with the Applied English Center in the International Studies Program.
“I am fearful for my job and our program,” she told members of the Faculty Senate.
“Since the budget cuts, one person lost their job and several salaries and teaching loads have been cut,” Williams said. “We don’t have much clout on campus.”
However, Joe Potts, interim director and assistant vice provost for International Programs, said the university budget cuts have not affected the Applied English Center.
Instead, he says it’s a decline in foreign students who are enrolled in the classes, which provide intensive English language training.
“Like a lot of units on campus, our teaching is dependent on enrollment,” Potts said. “Foreign student enrollment is down.”
Kirk McClure, Faculty Senate president, told the group, “The Faculty Senate must be in a watchdog role.”
Following the meeting, Williams told the Journal-World she was a KU alumna with a master’s degree and has taught at the university for seven years. She earns $34,000 a year.
The group discussed many concerns regarding how budget cuts would be made.
McClure said he had received emails from faculty who are very fearful of the effects of the budget on their programs and jobs.
A further indication of the growing fear, McClure said, came when a faculty member requested that McClure set up a private Gmail account so people could write to him in confidence.
“We should not be in a place where people have this much fear,” McClure said.
While other issues await discussion by Senate, “the budget has consumed all the oxygen in the room,” McClure said.