The university leadership will begin reducing expenses by $7-8 million in the next fiscal year by eliminating some faculty and staff positions and consolidating some departments.
Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, said the Board of Trustees approved a plan that will cut costs to prevent a potential budget deficit of 5-7 percent or $7-8 million. He said there is not a set number of jobs that will be cut, and the university will focus on cutting by dollars rather than number of jobs.
“We will be reducing positions over the next year,” Schubert said, “combining departments and offices, looking at outsourcing opportunities.”
Schubert said the administration will try to prevent a budget deficit by focusing on cutting costs rather than raising tuition, which is one option for universities. But Schubert said the board and the senior leadership team want to continue decreasing student debt. The average student debt decreased by 12 percent for the most recent graduating class, according to a news release from the university.
“That does not mean tuition is not going to go up,” Schubert said. “We’re just wanting to ensure that is not the primary avenue.”
The university faces a potential budget deficit despite having recorded some of its largest enrollments in university history in the last seven years. Block tuition has allowed students to graduate quicker with less debt, but that means less revenue for the university. Another reason for the deficit includes increases in dual-credit which means less credit hours sold to students.
“Achieving three major objectives – lowering student debt and the cost of delivering a quality higher education, while increasing affordability – creates unavoidable tension, especially in our budget,” Schubert said. “We owe it to our students to excel at all three.”
Reducing positions will lower costs because employee salaries and benefits account for more than 55 percent of the overall budget and the cost of health benefits for employees is growing at a 10-15 percent annual rate. Schubert said faculty and staff cuts will be evaluated this semester and employees will be offered a voluntary retirement incentive if they meet certain eligibility criteria. Some positions may be cut especially in departments that have higher faculty to student ratios, but Schubert said other departments may need to hire more faculty.
Schubert shared the results of the board decision with faculty and staff in meetings Wednesday.
The senior leadership team includes:
- Dr. Phil Schubert, president
- Suzanne Allmon, senior advisor to the president
- Kevin Campbell, vice president for enrollment management and student engagement
- Lee De Leon, director of athletics
- Steven Holley, vice president and chief business officer
- Dr. Stephen Johnson, vice president of academic affairs, Dallas
- Wendy Jones, chief human resources officer and Title IX co-coordinator
- Dr. Gary McCaleb, vice president
- Jim Orr, vice president for advancement
- Dr. Robert Rhodes, university provost
- Chris Riley, vice president for Student Life
- Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker, chair of the strategic plan steering committee