The University of Nebraska is ahead of its goal in achieving $30 million in budget savings as part of an effort to close a $49 million budget shortfall created through a loss of state aid and increases tied to employee compensation and other costs.

NU said Monday it has cut $6.5 million from its budget so far this year, largely through eliminating 61 unfilled positions across the university’s four campuses and shifting six others to alternative funding sources not derived from state appropriations or tuition revenue.

Ten budget response teams identifying and implementing the cuts across several areas of the campus had hoped to find $5 million in budget cuts this year, followed by $17 million next year, and $8 million more in the first year of the 2019-2020 two-year budget cycle.

“We’ve made good progress, but we have a long ways to go,” said Chris Kabourek, NU’s budget director.

Marjorie Kostelnik, a senior associate to the NU president overseeing the cuts, said reductions made to date saved the equivalent of a 2 percent increase to tuition costs assessed to students.

Twenty-two positions are being cut or reclassified at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus absorbing 17 cuts, and the university medical center slashing 15 positions. UNK lost four positions and central administration slashed nine, according to a list provided by the university.

The positions being eliminated are currently unfilled. Nor are any of the positions classified as academic staff.

Six positions, including some facilities and maintenance jobs at UNMC and procurement services at UNL, were moved to non-state aided funding sources, Kabourek said.

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Most of the cuts will affect NU's custodial services, as 39 unfilled positions include custodians, building maintenance and grounds-keeping positions.

The university is also cutting 12 information technology positions and 15 positions tied to financial operations and accounting, as well as a position within the office of the senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at UNO, and several director of student affairs positions at UNMC.

“These are all jobs that under better circumstances we would have wanted to fill as they existed or to direct to new tasks,” Kostelnik said. “Their elimination means campuses are having to do more with less.”

Missing from the first round of cuts were positions in the university’s human resources departments, public relations and communications, as well as its travel and printing expenses.

Kabourek said the budget response teams are moving forward in identifying and implementing further cuts, even though the teams have exceeded the goal for the 2017-18 budget year.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.

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Higher education reporter

Chris Dunker covers higher education.

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