FAIRBORN — The positions of 57 employees and 119 additional vacant positions will be eliminated at Wright State University as part the fiscal year 2018 budget approved by the Board of Trustees.
The trustees passed the budget by a vote of 7-to-1 on June 8 at its public budget presentation in the Student Union Apollo Room.
The $284 million budget, which goes into effect July 1, reduces the budget by $30.8 million and expenses by over $50 million from the 2017 respective amounts to bring the budget into balance while adding $6 million for reserves. The budget reductions are projected to help the university finish FY 2018 with $33 million in reserves.
The budget remediation plan represents a 15 percent reduction from the 2017 expenses. The cuts include $22 million in savings from personnel reductions and $8 million in savings from operational reductions.
Board Chair Doug Fecher called it “an honest budget” that starts Wright State “on the road to recovery,” saying it will lead to a strategic plan for funding priorities of future budgets.
The budget is based on an estimate that student credit hours will decrease by 5 percent fall semester. Under the budget, the cost of room and board will each increase by 3 percent. Salaries of university employees are not budgeted for any increase.
Wright State currently employs more than 3,300 faculty and staff. Under the budget, the university will eliminate positions currently held by 15 classified staff members and 42 unclassified staff members. No currently occupied faculty positions will be eliminated.
A total of 119 additional positions that are either currently vacant or will be vacant by the end of June will also be eliminated. Another 13 currently filled full-time positions will have their hours reduced.
The board approved a resolution to remove “bumping rights” for 250 non-bargaining unit classified employees, effective immediately. Those rights enabled workers whose jobs faced elimination to take the positions of employees with less seniority. Critics of the practice say bumping creates a disruptive domino effect, while supporters say the employees saved the university money by giving up other benefits in exchange for the security of bumping rights.
Jeff Ulliman, vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer, presented the budget. He and the trustees fielded questions and concerns from the audience, including what will happen if student credit hours decline by more than 5 percent and whether the cuts will delay student graduations.
The budget called for elimination of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. However, following impassioned pleas at the budget presentation by team members and their supporters, the trustees voted to instruct interim President Curtis L. McCray to work with the athletics director up until June 30 to see if the teams can be saved while staying within the department’s $11.6 million budget.
The $8 million in savings from operational changes called for in the budget affects every unit on campus. Changes include reductions in stipends; IT, marketing and administrative support; advertising, outreach and sponsorships; professional services; overtime; travel; student employment; library journal subscriptions; repairs and maintenance; and some scholarships and fellowships.
Some extracurricular activities, including Parent’s Weekend, Madrigal Dinner, college alumni dinners and the Presidential Lecture Series, have been eliminated.
In addition, the university saves $6 million from last year’s voluntary retirement incentive plan — through which 153 employees retired — and an additional $2 million through other attrition from the fiscal year 2017 budget.
Reductions or eliminations of non-personnel expenditures — which were announced in April and include activities like overnight travel, catering and supplies, computers and furniture — remain in effect.
Wright State will provide support and resources to employees whose jobs are eliminated, with the goal of providing departing employees guidance that aligns with their career paths and interests.
The university will continue to provide tuition remission for displaced employees and their immediate dependents for two years following their separation date from the university. Human Resources will provide counseling, resume reviews, interviewing critiques and skills assessment to employees.
The university will host a career expo on June 27 for employees whose jobs are eliminated. The expo will match employees with local companies and higher education employers in need of their skills and experience.
“In the end, the one thing that has not changed at Wright State University is the quality of people who make up Raider Country — our students, our faculty, our staff and indeed every one of the stakeholders in this room today,” Fecher told the audience. “And to our students — many of whom are with us today — we owe you nothing less than a fulfilling and life-changing educational experience so that you can live the lives you want to live.”
The budget proposal is available at wright.edu/FY2018CurrentFundsBudget.
Story courtesy of Wright State University.