University of Wyoming proposes new budget reduction plan

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Nearly 80 positions will be eliminated, the operations budget will be cut and the athletic department will cut travel costs and reduce salaries as the University of Wyoming addresses a $42 million budget deficit exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal comes after Gov. Mark Gordon imposed the 10% cuts on the university as a result of a substantial decrease in state revenue, the Laramie Boomerang reported Wednesday.

The university cuts would eliminate at least 78 academic and nonacademic positions. Most of the positions are currently unfilled.

The university would reduce its support budget, which includes travel and professional development, and its operations budgets. About 35 graduate teaching assistant positions would be eliminated and spending would decrease on global engagement. The proposal would eliminate 50 currently budgeted positions.

On the nonacademic side, the university would eliminate another 28 budgeted positions. Housing, dining, catering and conferences would be reorganized to save money. The athletic department would cut travel costs and reduce salaries.

“Any cut of this magnitude is difficult, but we believe we have a specific plan to achieve this reduction by finding new efficiencies and eliminating some programs that don’t align with our strategic priorities,” the university's president, Ed Seidel, said. “We aim to minimize the impact to our students; optimize the research we conduct to boost our state’s economy; and strengthen the service we perform for the citizens of Wyoming.”

The university will seek input from faculty, staff, students and the public regarding the budget reduction plan. Seidel was directed by the university’s Board of Trustees to propose a budget cut for the board’s consideration at its Nov. 11-13 meeting.

In tandem with the budget cut proposal, 20 academic programs the school characterizes as “low-enrollment” will be reviewed for potential reorganization, reduction or elimination. Majors, minors and programs across the university are in danger of being eliminated.

In the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Master of Science and Ph.D. programs in agronomy are being considered for elimination while the community development concentration in agricultural economics would be considered for reorganization.

In the College of Arts and Sciences, the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and minor in American studies; the Master of Arts in psychology; the Bachelor of Science in journalism; the Master of Science in Teaching in chemistry; the Master of Arts in Teaching in history and the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing are being considered for elimination.

In the College of Business, minors in accounting, decision science, finance, human resource management and marketing are being considered for elimination. The Master of Business Administration in energy concentration is being considered for suspension.

In the College of Education, the bachelor’s program in secondary French, German and Spanish education is being considered for elimination.

In the College of Engineering and Applied Science, consolidating the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science will be considered.

In the College of Law, the military justice/Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps track and the Summer Trial Institute are being considered for elimination.

After a 120-day review by the Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate, the Associated Students of UW and other interested parties, the finalized reductions would be presented to the university’s Board of Trustees in February.