The University of Kansas administrators informed faculty and staff Tuesday of plans to make $20 million in budget cuts during the upcoming fiscal year, a reaction to harsh budget realities that previously led Kansas State University to authorize $15 million in spending reductions.
The KU adjustment would represent a 5.8 percent across-the-board decrease over current expenditures, while the Kansas State plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 amounts to a 5.7 percent cut.
Carl Lejuez, interim provost and executive vice chancellor of KU’s main campus in Lawrence, said the university faced “substantial, but reparable, budget circumstances that require our immediate attention and action.”
If nothing were done in the coming year, he said, balances would be depleted by overspending and the shortfall would grow to a minimum of $50 million within five years.
“Staying the current course is not an option,” Lejuez said. “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.”
He told university employees the decision resulted from convergence of declining state funding, university commitments that exceeded revenue and challenges facing all of higher education. The budget adjustments fit with KU’s intention of keeping tuition increases “as low as possible,” Lejuez said.
KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said reductions would be combined with a new budget model that “is the right strategy to address our challenges and put us in a position to fully align our resources with our core mission.”
K-State officials said there would be “no centrally funded merit or cost of living salary adjustments or targeted faculty enhancements next year.”
In addition, KSU officials decided the College of Veterinary Medicine in Manhattan and K-State Polytechnic in Salina would be excluded from reductions.
KU and K-State administrators imposed the reductions despite the 2018 Legislature’s passage of a bill restoring about $15 million in university funding cut in 2016 by then-Gov. Sam Brownback.
Kansas State attributed must of its budget woes to sharp declines in enrollment and tuition revenue. KU’s enrollment has been flatter, but that won’t provide the kind of automatic tuition revenue boost administrators had grown accustomed to receiving.
Instead, university officials have asked the Kansas Board of Regents for authority to raise tuition rates by 3 percent at KU and 1.2 percent at Kansas State. KU is abandoning a program that allowed freshmen students to retain the same tuition rate for a four-year period.
At Kansas State, officials said the supplemental state funding and the tuition hike would provide money for operating cost increases related to fringe benefits, scholarships, faculty promotions and the base salary adjustment of 1.5 percent approved in the current fiscal year.