The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will shift funding for certain services from state tax dollars to student fees as part of a $3.8 million proposal to address ongoing budget reductions.
The proposed cuts presented Wednesday to the campus Academic Planning Committee represent less than half of the target set in September by Chancellor Ronnie Green, who said UNL will try to cut $8.5 million by early next year. Another round of proposed cuts will go before the committee Dec. 6.
UNL’s cuts come on top of a systemwide effort at NU to close a $49 million budget gap created by a loss in state aid, and increases to employee salaries and benefits and general operating costs.
NU system President Hank Bounds convened 10 teams of university employees to identify $30 million in cuts. Those teams have put forward 70 strategies to achieve those targeted savings over the next two years.
About $17 million of the $30 million will come in cuts to nonacademic services and offices at UNL, and Green said earlier this year that he would also ask the Academic Planning Committee to find $2.5 million to build some padding into its budget should the Legislature seek to cut more in state appropriations next year.
Most of the 13 proposed cuts revealed Thursday come from shifting state-funded positions to fee revenue-funded positions, eliminating expenses in offices of top administrators and from operations at the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The proposed cuts include:
* $1.2 million from shifting salaries in the Office of Online and Distance Education from state appropriations to revenue from the online course fee assessed to students.
* $523,540 from shifting salaries for staff in the University Registrar and Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics offices from state appropriations to technology fee revenue collected from students.
* $500,000 from Rural Futures Institute programs. The institute lines up UNL students for projects in rural Nebraska communities.
* $337,763 from UNL’s summer-school budget.
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* $264,750 from eliminating two unfilled faculty positions in the Nebraska Center for Virology.
* $150,000 from the utility budget for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at research, teaching and extension centers across the state.
* $127,328 from vacating UNL’s space in the Northeast Community College Lifelong Learning Center and moving those programs to the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center.
* $125,000 from the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resource’s self-insurance budget. UNL said the expenses from this budget line are estimated to be less than previously budgeted.
* $106,333 in state funds for a bus route connecting Nebraska Innovation Campus to UNL’s City and East campuses. Funding for the route will be shifted to revenue collected from an additional $1 added per month to faculty and staff parking permits, as well as $3 added per semester to a transit fee assessed to students.
* $250,000 from cutting vacant positions and eliminating redundancies in UNL’s communications and marketing departments by June 30, 2019.
* $51,416 from eliminating a vacant position in the chancellor’s office.
* $48,000 from unused pooled salary funds in the chancellor’s budget.
* $40,925 through eliminating a permanent facility renovation budget for IANR. UNL said facility renovations and deferred maintenance have shifted to other sources in recent years.
Ken Bloom, a professor of physics and astronomy and chair of the Academic Planning Committee, said the committee will schedule hearings to give the campus community a chance to weigh in on the proposals.
While the first round of proposed cuts are largely nonacademic, Bloom said the committee expects proposals submitted by administrators Dec. 6 could negatively affect some academic programs.
"It's going to be a bigger deal," he said.