Trustees Approve Elimination Of UW Staff And Degrees

May 11, 2017

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees oversaw reductions in both staff and degree programs during its May meeting.

President Laurie Nichols announced to the Board of Trustees on Thursday that 37 university staff will lose their jobs heading into fiscal year 2018. Specific departments facing staff reductions have not been publicly announced, but Nichols told the trustees that notifications will go out next week.

“Now that we have had the time to visit with the board, both in public session and executive session, we will be communicating this on campus.” Nichols added, “We need to get through commencement. It’s important we celebrate this weekend. And then we will start working on this on Monday.”  

Nichols said she attempted to make budget reductions through other measures before turning to layoffs. “We are down 332 positions. Almost all of those were through vacancies and through retirements, however now you see us starting to implement FY 18 and we will pick up another 37 positions,” she said.

She told the trustees that in order to meet reductions in state funding the layoffs were necessary, and she did not expect to rehire any of the 37 eliminated staff positions. But according to UW spokesperson Chad Baldwin, between 20 and 22 faculty positions will be filled for next year.

Budget reductions also have UW looking at ways to reduce administrative costs. A proposal by Provost Kate Miller to eliminate several undergraduate and graduate degrees was approved Thursday by the UW Board of Trustees, after a lengthy process to examine low enrollment. Undergraduate degrees in Russian and Industrial Technical Education will be eliminated, while Art Education and Modern Language Education will be put on hold for a year. Masters degrees in French, German, and Neuroscience will also be eliminated.  

According to Miller, the 13 students currently enrolled in these programs will be allowed to complete their degrees.

The biggest concern from the trustees — Michelle Sullivan among them — was how the elimination of degrees in secondary education might impact K-12 education in Wyoming. “I don’t want us to just eliminate this and walk away from it,” said Sullivan. “It’s a critical conversation that must involve both deans and the Department of Education.”

Student Senate President Ben Wetzel, echoed these concerns. He said he had heard from UW students about the need for opportunities to study art education. “It’s hard to find people who are truly certified and ready to teach particularly in Wyoming in art education.” He said it was important to ensure, “the university is producing students ready to move forward into that field.”

Provost Miller assured the board that degree pathways designed to meet the needs of K-12 would be maintained, and she said faculty layoffs specifically linked to these changes are not expected.