- Associated Press - Thursday, November 17, 2016

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - Even as the University of Wyoming grapples with more than $40 million in budget cuts, President Laurie Nichols said she still holds out hope of offering pay raises to faculty and staff next year.

“I cannot tell you that I have successfully achieved this yet until we get deeper into this budget,” Nichols told the UW Board of Trustees on Thursday. “But certainly I’m working toward that. I haven’t given up trying to get that accomplished as well.”

Nichols said there will be no pay raise this year.

The state’s only public, four-year university faces steep budget cuts mainly because of a drop in state funding brought on by a downturn in Wyoming’s energy economy. To account for the cuts, the university is looking at eliminating degree programs, cutting faculty and staff positions and increasing student fees.

The university has already identified $19 million in cuts in the current 2017 fiscal year, mostly by eliminating about 100 vacant positions and offering early-retirement incentives.

The university needs to make an additional $10 million in permanent reductions in fiscal year 2018.

Nichols said the university cannot meet its budget reduction goals without cutting personnel.

Since most of the employees who accepted an early retirement incentive this year were staff members, only faculty members will be eligible for the new early retirement program, she said.

Nichols said she hopes the reduction in faculty numbers will save $4 million, of which $2 million will be reinvested into recruiting new faculty in areas that need them.

Besides the budget cuts, the university also is looking to increase revenue through higher student academic fees, increased enrollment and already scheduled tuition increases.

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