- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The University of Wyoming may have to eliminate more faculty and staff positions if other planned budget cuts do not pan out as expected, UW President Laurie Nichols said Wednesday.

The state’s only public four-year university is slashing spending in order to account for the state cutting its support by more than $40 million over the next two years.

Last month, Nichols declared a financial crisis and detailed a plan that included five strategies to save $19.3 million during the new fiscal year that began on July 1.

However, Nichols told the UW Board of Trustees during a conference call on Wednesday that efforts to save about $2.5 million a year by having faculty spend more time teaching and another $3 million this year and $6 million next year by offering early retirement and separation may not meet original expectations.

She plans to eliminate more vacant faculty and staff positions to compensate, Nichols said.

The university was already counting 70 vacant jobs to save about $5.2 million a year.

But Nichols said nearly 80 vacant positions have been identified across the campus. “We have actually more than $5.2 million in vacancies right now on the books,” she said.

The university might have to eliminate up to 85 positions, Nichols said.

Asked by a trustee what the problem was with getting faculty to accept more classroom teaching, Nichols responded that she hasn’t been directly involved in that matter, which is being worked on by school deans and department heads.

“The sense I get is just simply holding deans’ and department heads’ feet to the fire and really, really make the faculty standardize their workload,” she said, noting that there needs to be justification for releasing faculty from the workload.

Nichols hopes the university can save up to $2.5 million a year by not having to hire part-time faculty to cover for full-time faculty in the classroom.

So far, 41 employees have accepted early retirement incentives and another 18 have agreed to leave. The university will be offering financial counseling next week to help employees make retirement decisions.

She and her staff are continuing to work on the cuts, and she should have better information by the time the board meets again in August, Nichols said.

Nichols has formed a special committee made up of various university interests to help find savings, including program cuts and restructuring.

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