I’m from one of the departments where, for cost-saving, faculty are asked to reduce their contract year and staff are asked to take voluntary leave without pay (furlough). In which departments UAF are employees being asked to do the same? (This is aside from program mergers, contract non-renewals, and outright layoffs.)
For fiscal year 2017 (the year we are currently in), there are at least four units that have instituted furloughs — two that report to the vice chancellor for administrative services and two that report to the provost. Represented staff in one unit that reports to the vice chancellor for administrative services agreed to a pay reduction. And there are many units that have instituted contract reductions for administrators, faculty and staff (Chancellor’s Office; Provost’s Office; Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research; Office of the Vice Chancellor for Rural, Community and Native Education; and Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs).
Looking forward for FY 18, it is hard to answer right now what strategies departments will have to use, as we don’t yet have a final budget appropriation from the state.
The biggest type of cost in UAF’s budget is personnel (salaries and benefits). Reducing our budget therefore generally means we have to make personnel cost reductions of one kind or another. As you’ve noted, the approach to personnel reductions varies across departments. Some are doing layoffs and nonrenewals, and some are trying to keep the same staff and faculty but are employing contract reductions and furloughs. The difference in approach across units has to do with differences in program models, attrition, anticipated retirements, anticipated changes in program revenue, etc. A unit that is trying to “bridge” to a scenario with new revenue may try to keep staff and faculty on in the interim and employ contract reductions temporarily, with the idea that employees would return to full-time later. An academic unit that is discontinuing a program might reduce contracts temporarily across the college or school during the teach-out period until it can permanently reduce or reorganize faculty and staff associated with the discontinued program.
I am hopeful that the Legislature will arrive at a more sustainable budget approach this year so this will be the last year of deep reductions. With some fiscal stability, UAF will likewise be able to settle on a more sustainable budget approach.
— Kari Burell, vice chancellor for administrative services