UNK addresses $4.3M budget shortfall by looking at position, program cuts

Local4 News at 10
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 4:20 PM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Each of the colleges within the University of Nebraska system are looking at ways to make up for an approximate $58 million budget shortfall.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney is attempting to shave off $4.3 million of that total.

“This is system wide, not unique for UNK,” said Todd Gottula, UNK Sr. Director of Communications. ”We are doing our part to help with the overall shortfall.””

A couple of weeks ago, UNK held a campus-wide budget forum to openly discuss the financial challenges it faced.

“We just want to be committed to transparency for students, faculty and staff,” said Gottula.

Gottula said part of what was shared was a faculty advisory committee has been formed to address the problem and make recommendations to administration.

The faculty group met on Monday and, for the first time, the committee shared a draft of some proposed program and position cuts that are going to be looked at.

At this time, the group is looking at 33 staff positions across 14 different programs that range anywhere from cyber systems and communications, journalism, music and theater to physics and astronomy.

Gottula said it’s a broad list covering a lot of different positions.

“It’s really important to note it’s just a draft of proposed program and position cuts,” said Gottula. “It’s only a draft and no where near final.”

He said it’s just a starting point to get dialogue going. He said the list will change, probably daily as it’s a working draft.

Gottula said they are in the process of gathering input, getting feedback, really taking a deep dive and examining those programs and those positions with another forum likely set in November.

UNK hopes to have a final proposal to turn over to NU President Ted Carter by Dec. 1.

Gottula said the primary factors contributing to the budget shortfall include increased wages, inflation, muted revenue growth and enrollment decline. Something he says is not unique to Nebraska or universities or colleges across the country.

“Our expenditures are just exceeding our revenues,” he said. “It’s just kind of simple math so we are addressing that shortfall.”

He added that they’ve been in a hiring freeze for the last couple of months with 70 full time and 156 part time positions currently going unfilled. He said those salary lines that aren’t being used is being put toward this shortfall.

“We are trying to lessen the impact on students and the university,” he said. “It’s difficult and tough and we are trying to be positive to making the right decisions.”