By Bill Robinson
Eastern Kentucky University’s Strategic Budget Reallocation Task Force will recommend merging the offices of Administrative Affairs with Financial Affairs, eliminating the administrative vice president’s position.
The Continuing Education and Outreach program also would be “decentralized,” eliminating the dean and associate dean’s positions.
Those were among the most significant items included in a draft summary of the task force’s recommendations released Friday at the request of incoming EKU President Michael Benson.
In a statement to the campus community, Benson said he hoped the information would help quell some of the “apprehension and uncertainty” surrounding the effort to reduce the university budget by 10 percent.
None of the recommendations can take effect until adopted by the board of regents, which will review them at its June meeting.
The voluntary buyout and enhanced retirement transition plans have been successful, according to the statement. However, the university declined to release the number of those applying for them because those applying for buyouts have until May 20 to revoke their requests.
Decentralizing the office of Policy, Compliance and Governance would eliminate the executive director’s position.
The EKU extended campus center at Fort Knox would closed and the Lancaster center would be “repurposed” under the proposal.
The athletics department has proposed three options for reducing its budget by 10 percent, Benson’s statement noted, but no details were provided.
Contingency funds budgeted for the EKU Center for the Arts and the Madison Airport, operated by the university, would be reduced, but no amounts were specified. The EKU Center’s ticket service fee would be increased.
Faculty would be charged for parking permits, and parking permit fees for students would be increased, but no amounts were disclosed. A no-fee parking lot would be served by a free shuttle service.
Student scholarships, work study and the Office of Admissions “have been held harmless” by the recommendations.
At Benson’s request, the task force has reversed its recommendation to reduce the tuition waiver from 12 to 9 credit hours a year for spouses, dependents and sponsored dependents.
The Academic Affairs Office is committed to reviewing with Benson the economics of academic programs, faculty workload and policies related to faculty, according to his statement.
Benson said he intended to address immediately faculty and staff salary compensation and equity. “Funds from the reallocation will be directed to this issue in the coming weeks and months,” he said, promising that “news of salary adjustments will be forthcoming.”
“A wholesale examination of our academic offerings and a determination of what we can afford to do – and to do it even better,” also needs immediate attention, Benson said.
That would include determining which programs EKU “cannot afford to offer in the future and what additional efficiencies can be realized.”
Benson promised to engage all interested faculty in that review.
At the August “Welcome Back” meeting, Bension said he will present “some initial ideas of EKU positioning and branding as we determine the role we will play in the future both within the Commonwealth and throughout our region.”
Bill Robinson can be reached at email@example.com or at 624-6690.