Wright State University will eliminate the positions of about 71 employees and roughly 107 additional vacant positions as part of a plan to balance the university’s fiscal year 2018 budget.
The proposed fiscal year 2018 budget, which begins July 1, also includes significant cuts to Wright State operations. The proposal would cut a total of $30.3 million to balance the university’s budget, while adding $6 million to the reserves.
The Board of Trustees will vote on the final budget at its public budget workshop on June 8.
Information about the cuts was first released in an email from interim President Curtis L. McCray to the Wright State community on May 19. Details were also presented during a meeting of the Finance Committee of the Wright State Board of Trustees the same day.
The budget proposal is available at wright.edu/bot.
“The budget proposal aims to put Wright State University in a stronger financial position and ensure we can continue to provide an excellent and affordable education to students,” McCray said. “Although these cuts are painful and in some cases unfair, the university’s mission of transforming the lives of our students and communities is vital.”
Under the proposal, the university would eliminate positions currently held by about 24 classified staff members, approximately 43 unclassified staff members and about four faculty members.
Approximately 107 additional positions that are either currently vacant or will be vacant by the end of June would also be eliminated.
Sixty-five percent of all the proposed eliminated positions are considered administrative positions by the Ohio Department of Education’s administrative headcount ratio, which is considered a productivity measure in the department’s Efficiency and Advisory Committee Report.
Eliminating the currently held and vacant positions would save the university a total of $14.1 million in salaries and benefits.
Another 14 currently filled full-time positions will have their hours reduced.
McCray apologized to those employees who will lose their jobs because of the budget cuts. Many of those staff and faculty members have been excellent employees and may not be responsible for the university’s budget problems, he said.
“I am very sorry and personally wish we had not come to this moment,” McCray said.
The proposed budget does not include plans to furlough employees.
Wright State also proposes saving $8 million through operational changes in every unit on campus. These proposed changes would include reductions in professional services, overtime, travel, student employment, repairs and maintenance, and some scholarships and fellowships.
The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics plans to eliminate both the men’s and the women’s swimming and diving teams. Team members will be able to keep their scholarships if they decide to remain at Wright State. Wright State’s athletic program would retain its NCAA Division I status.
The university plans to discontinue Japanese, Italian and Russian. Certain extracurricular activities, including Parent’s Weekend, Madrigal Dinner, college alumni dinners and the Presidential Lecture Series, have been eliminated.
In addition, the university expects to save $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.
The proposed reductions in the budget plan amount to about 10 percent of the university’s operation, which has a base budget of $30.3 million.
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 continues to investigate other options to strengthen its fiscal position and increase the university’s reserves, McCray said.
The plan to balance the FY18 budget does not include consolidating colleges or programs or centralizing duplicative services, like information technology, marketing or enrollment management.
However, the university continues to analyze possible areas and services that could be consolidated or merged, while also exploring other means to reduce expenses, McCray said. The university also continues to consider the possibility of selling non-core assets.
The university is also considering options to redesign the employee medical plans.
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.
McCray, Provost Thomas Sudkamp and CFO Jeff Ulliman worked with deans and other administrators and employees to address the budget challenge. Each college and division was asked to submit plans to cut their budget by 5 percent and 15 percent, which was used to guide the FY18 budget proposal.
McCray attributed the university’s budget problems on overspending, lack of oversight, poor judgment and planning, and not fully understanding how complex Wright State is.
“We are confident that controls currently in place or in the process of being implemented will ensure proper financial oversight and the fiscal sustainability of the institution,” McCray said.
But as Wright State celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, students, faculty, staff and alumni still have much to be proud of, he said.
“This is a very solid place,” he said. “The university will come through and will continue to be a mighty contributor both to the culture and the economic development of the area.”
Despite the university’s challenges, McCray says Wright State can also be optimistic because of its students, especially after the enthusiastic response to Wright State’s Signing Day event on May 1.
“This place will come through,” he said. “As I walk around campus I still sense some buoyancy.”