UNK announces unprecedented budget cuts to meet $3.4 million budget gap

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen today outlined proposed budget cuts that exceed .4 million, and affect 38 positions across nearly every campus unit.

Men’s baseball, golf and tennis will be eliminated. Position eliminations comprise 16 faculty, 2.5 administrative, and 16.5 staff positions. Three affected staff positions will shift to the University of Nebraska system as part of the budget response team process.

“The magnitude of these cuts is unprecedented, considering they represent a nearly 5 percent reduction in UNK’s operating budget and employee workforce,” Kristensen said.

UNK’s budget gap of .4 million is the result of decreased state appropriations, declining credit hour production, and scheduled salary and benefit increases.

“The fact that we developed these recommendations collaboratively across campus doesn’t lessen the negative impact on faculty, staff and students, and for Nebraskans,” Kristensen said.

Doug Kristensen
Doug Kristensen
Paul Plinske
Paul Plinske

The campus has been guided by its strategic plan and identified reductions through a hiring freeze, college and departmental mergers, and by engaging the campus in a comprehensive review of all units, functions, programs, staffing, and enrollment trends, he said.

“We have tightened our belts for years, but the current situation has required a more strategic approach to protect academic quality and core campus functions and services,” Kristensen said.

The budget reductions were presented to a forum of faculty, staff and students on campus today. The administration will now receive feedback from faculty and staff to formulate final budget reductions that will become effective July 1.

The recommendations outlined today by Kristensen included reductions in administration and support staff ($837,000), faculty ($1,551,872), operations personnel ($829,475), and athletics ($450,000). The total proposed is $3.67 million.

The 16 recommended faculty reductions come from UNK’s four colleges and the library. Specific positions have been identified, but could change following additional input from faculty and deans.

“Faculty reductions result in lost teaching capacity, with fewer course sections and larger class sizes, and also impact student academic and career advising,” Kristensen said. The eliminated positions are vacant or are identified for vacancy soon because of planned retirements or reorganization. Kristensen said regardless of whether a reduced position is associated with an existing person, “these are needed jobs that once eliminated have real and permanent impact.”

Administrative reductions will result from a merger of the colleges of Fine Arts and Humanities and Natural and Social Sciences into a new College of Arts and Sciences. In 2017 Chancellor Kristensen announced a process to merge the colleges. The new alignment involves collaborative restructuring involving faculty and leadership in the two existing colleges.

Once approved by the Board of Regents and fully implemented, the new college structure will result in the elimination of the positions of a dean, associate dean, and administrative support position. The college proposal could be ready for presentation to the Regents this summer.

The announcement of the elimination of men’s golf and tennis, and baseball, was discussed at the forum, and student-athletes, staff and other stakeholders were informed today of the decision.

“Sport elimination is particularly difficult because it directly impacts 56 student athletes and 10 incoming freshmen,” Kristensen said. Title IX compliance prohibited consideration of eliminating a women’s sport, and the MIAA conference requires sponsorship of football and basketball. Further analyzed as part of the decision were budget and costs, facilities, travel cost, and climate-related challenges to scheduling home competitions, Kristensen said.

UNK Director of Athletics Paul Plinske said student-athletes’ scholarships will be honored through their remaining eligibility, and UNK will support the athletes in their efforts to find new teams and transfer if they desire. Additionally, the swimming pool in Cushing Coliseum will be closed, resulting in savings of $56,000 annually.

“While the budget constraints faced by the university are unprecedented, we will continue to protect quality academic programs and core functions and keep our tuition affordable for students and families,” Kristensen said.

UNK has approximately 814 benefit-eligible employees. Of those, 471 are considered staff (includes administration, office, service and managerial professional employees) and 343 are faculty (special appointment lecturers, tenure-track faculty, tenured faculty and deans).

More detail on the budget is outlined below. (The salary savings listed include the benefit costs associated with the positions):

Administrative Reductions via Academic College and Functional Mergers—$480,573

  • The merger of the Colleges of Fine Arts and Humanities and Natural and Social Sciences to form a new College of Arts and Sciences will generate substantial savings with the elimination of a Dean ($184,807), Associate Dean ($47,872), Associate Dean stipend ($5,831), Associate Dean salary savings ($16,175), and an Administrative Associate ($71,833).
  • The Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs will also eliminate the Assistant SVCASA/Director of Institutional Research position ($154,053), moving from a three-person to a two-person unit.

Chancellor/Athletics Reductions — $450,000
Baseball, Men’s Tennis, and Men’s Golf programs will be eliminated, including operational budgets and salary lines.
Three sport reductions will affect 56 athletes and institutional priority goals of enrollment, out-of-state and diversity enrollment. Factors analyzed included Title IX implications, conference required programs (football and basketball) program costs, cost/revenue per athlete, travel costs, and challenges to scheduling home competitions based on climate/geography.

Academic Support Reductions — $312,464
Efficiencies in the Colleges of Business and Technology and Natural and Social Sciences will result in the elimination of 2.5 office associate positions. As a part of the NU system’s merger of campus-based technology units into OneIT, one Workstation Support Specialist position will be eliminated in the College of Education and one in Natural and Social Sciences.

Faculty Reductions — $1,551,872
Faculty positions to be eliminated were identified based on strategic criteria including number of majors in the discipline, student credit hour production, and student enrollments.
16 positions are targeted for elimination in:

  • Business and Technology: Associate Professor (1) and Assistant Professor (1)
  • College of Education: Sr. Lecturer (1) and personnel savings
  • Fine Arts and Humanities: Professor (3), Associate Professor (1), Lecturer (1)
  • Natural and Social Sciences: Professor (3) and Assistant Professor (4)
  • Library: Lecturer (1)

Business and Facilities (Operations) Reductions — $829,475
Three positions were identified during the NU budget reduction process and will be funded by the NU system including Campus Architect (1) and Construction Managers (2).
Other positions were identified for elimination based on centrality to UNK’s mission and efficiencies and include: Business Systems Analyst (1), Emergency Management Director (1), Police Officer (1), Grounds Manager (1), Groundskeepers (2), Custodial Leader (1), and Maintenance Planner (1).
UNK will also decommission the campus swimming pool.

Student Affairs Reductions—$44,603
While the bulk of Student Affairs and Residential Life allocations are generated from student fees and federal and grant funding, Student Affairs contributed $44,603 to UNK’s savings through position consolidation.

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UNK Intercollegiate Athletics Sport Reductions

Questions & Answers

The University of Nebraska Kearney faces a $3.4 million budget gap in 2018-19. To address this significant gap, UNK anticipates reductions that will affect academic and operational units as well as athletics.

Why reductions in athletics?
UNK is having to make unprecedented reductions across campus including deep reductions in administration and support staff ($837,000), faculty ($1,551,872), and business and operations personnel ($829,475). Because athletics is primarily funded by the university, and in light of reduced state appropriations and declining enrollment, the university is no longer able to support 17 varsity sports.

How does UNK compare to Mid America Intercollegiate Athletic Association peers?
MIAA conference peers, on average, sponsor 13.4 varsity sports. With 17 sports (9 women, 8 men), UNK offers the most sports in the conference other than Lindenwood, which is a private school.

Why not make other reductions instead of eliminating sports?
Budgets have already been trimmed. Further across-the-board cuts will negatively affect the student-athlete experience and be detrimental to competitiveness of all varsity sports.

Which sports are being eliminated and how much will department expenditures be reduced? Baseball, men’s golf and men’s tennis will be discontinued at the conclusion of the spring 2018 season reducing athletics’ expenditures by $450,000 when fully implemented.

How many student-athletes will be affected? 56 current student-athletes and approximately 10 high school seniors who have signed National Letters of Intent with UNK.

What is the student-athlete breakdown in each sport?

Redshirt          
Freshman Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Total
Baseball 3 5 5 12 9 34
Men’s Golf 1 2 5 4 12
Men’s Tennis 4 3 3 10
3 10 7 20 16 56

How did UNK choose which sports would be eliminated?
Title IX implications preclude reductions in women’s sports as an underrepresented athletic department program. MIAA membership requires sponsoring football and basketball, in addition to softball. Of the remaining six men’s varsity sports, UNK analyzed costs such as operational, personnel, facilities, travel, and increased travel and missed class time in sports that lack opportunity for home competitions due to spring climate and weather.

Will UNK assist student-athletes who want to pursue opportunities at other schools? Yes.
Affected student-athletes will receive a blanket release to contact other schools immediately for purposes of transfer at the conclusion of the 2018 season. Per the NLI procedures, the agreement is null and void if a sport program is discontinued. Our coaches and Compliance Office will assist affected prospective student-athletes as they seek other intercollegiate athletic opportunities.

Will student-athlete scholarships and National Letters of Intent be honored? Yes. UNK will honor all scholarships and NLI of affected student-athletes who want to continue their studies at UNK. These students must remain eligible in accordance with UNK and athletic department eligibility standards.

What other support is the university providing to affected student-athletes? Members of the athletics administration and university staff are available to discuss scholarship and transfer information as well as provide academic advisement for eligibility purposes. UNK’s Counseling Services and Financial Aid professionals will be available for student-athletes needing additional support.

Is UNK considering other sport reductions? No. We are committed to enhancing the student-athlete experience and competitiveness of all our teams.

Will the university remain in the MIAA? Yes. UNK is firmly committed to its membership in the MIAA and to NCAA Division II athletics. Competing in Division II athletics is important to our student-athlete experience, alumni pride and national visibility.

Could funds be raised to save one or all sports? This is not a feasible strategy. To fully fund the operating and scholarship needs would require an endowment (using earnings-income on a larger investment) of $10 million for baseball, $2.25 million for men’s golf and $5 million for men’s tennis.

Will coaches or support staff be eliminated? Yes. Three coaching positions will be phased out over the next year while the women’s tennis coaches will remain on staff.

What is the plan for using or downloading the equipment and facilities? Wherever possible, the department will reallocate resources for other sport program use.

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UNK baseball, men’s golf, men’s tennis to be eliminated in budget-reduction plan

Media: Kelly Bartling, Assistant Vice Chancellor Communications and Community Relations, 308.224.7473, bartlingkh@unk.edu
Media: Todd Gottula, Director of Communications, 308.293.2602, gottulatm@unk.edu
UNK Athletics: Paul Plinske, Director of Athletics, 308.627.0236, plinskep@unk.edu

10 thoughts on “UNK announces unprecedented budget cuts to meet $3.4 million budget gap

  1. Will scholarships be affected for current students such as excellence scholarship, and Ron and Carol cope? If they are a freshman this year and have 3 years left and we’re guaranteed this for all 4 years?

    1. Title ix keeps some parity among men and women sports. Apparently men sports opportunities were a ahead of women sports opportunities. Do you want, for example, the women’s volleyball team cut?

    2. Are you more worried about sports than the educational aspect of UNK? Cry me a river. I would rather see the sports go altogether than have it affect the students like me who went purely for education, the real reason for attending university.

  2. Holy crap. A Dean makes almost 200.000 a year? Lets cut their salaries and keep all the sections for lecture. Maybe we should cut down a little more on athletics, academics should not suffer to maintain sports.

    1. That is probably total compensation including health insurance, retirement, etc.

  3. As an alumnus it sadden me to read my alma has to take deep budget cut. This budget cut will have a great effect on the quality of education at UNK. Tuition will eventually increase, Nebraskans will find it cost effected to seek higher education outside the state of Nebraska. International students will seek admission elsewhere. Good quality professors will see employment elsewhere also.
    Quality of campus life will be reduce, the concerts, The Big Event and 5K will all become the things of the past.
    We must protest this budget cut and demand Gov. Pete Ricketts protect pedigree of good sound education that Nebraska is famous for. One that competes on a global stage, one that produced senators in several countries, members of parliament in several countries, one the produce policy maker in several countries. Gov. Pete Ricketts must build upon it and not destroy it.
    What is next, the Bell tower will be remove?!

  4. Another year, another round of ridiculous budget cuts. Can we please elect some state representatives who are going to fight for an education budget instead of putting it at the front of the line for the chopping block?

  5. What is “declining credit hour production”?
    What are the root causes of “declining credit hour production”?

    1. “Credit Hour Production” is the number of classes or credits enrolled students take each semester. A drop in enrollment and/or flat enrollment can be one of the reasons for a decline. Another reason is if students take less credit hours.
      Credit hour production, not headcount, is considered the real driver of revenue at universities.
      Enrollment can be high at a university, but if students don’t take a full load of 12-15 hours, for example, it can result in a drop in credit hour production.

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