The Legislature and Governor have concluded their work in developing a two-year budget package for the state, including funding for the University of Nebraska. Between reductions in state funding and unavoidable rising expenses like health insurance, the university will face a recurring shortfall of $49 million by summer 2019.
The university will close the gap with a combination of spending cuts and revenue. Both were part of the 2017-18 operating budget recently approved by the Board of Regents.
“As we navigate this challenge, our first priority will be protecting the academic enterprise of the university. We will not let a temporary economic downturn damage our long-term quality, momentum and competitiveness.”— Hank Bounds, President
University of Nebraska
“Bounds said this week that he intends ‘to use this period as an opportunity to be even more strategic and more efficient in the ways we serve students, the workforce and our state.’ That’s the sound goal the entire NU community should embrace during this time of challenge.”— Editorial Board
The budget depends on $30 million in savings yielded by a university-wide “Budget Response Teams” that have identified cuts in a range of operational areas including IT, finance, facilities and travel. The university will work in the months ahead to finalize and implement these cuts, working closely with subject-matter experts and stakeholders across the campuses.
In many cases, the reductions will be difficult, and they will have a broad impact. At the same time, university leadership is focused on growing our way out of this challenge— so that the University of Nebraska continues to serve as an engine of economic growth for the state.
Thanks to the work of talented faculty, staff and students, the university has impressive momentum today. There are challenges ahead, but the university’s mission to conduct teaching, research and service on behalf of the people of the state is as important as it has ever been.
Please see attached document of FAQs regarding the 2017-19 budget.NU Budget FAQs (Revised June 8, 2017)
In January, we shared a university-wide process for re-imagining operations. The goal was to reduce spending, while also positioning us to deliver on our mission.
Nearly 100 employees from across the University served on Budget Response Teams that recommended reductions in eight service areas: finance, human resources, IT, facilities and energy, printing, communication, procurement, and travel. Based on conversations with team members, we project up to $30 million in savings over the next several years – savings that will help us meet a $49 million budget shortfall.
Each area is represented by a task force of subject-matter experts who delivered cost-cutting recommendations to a university-wide Steering Committee this spring. The Steering Committee, in turn, brought their recommendations to President Bounds and the chancellors for consideration.
We are now beginning to finalize the teams’ recommendations and move to an implementation phase. We’re still working through final decisions, but we do know they’ll include a range of changes. In some cases, we’ve identified more efficient processes or organizational structures that will allow us to serve students and Nebraskans more collaboratively.
Some of the changes will impact jobs. We expect to lose more than 100 positions, through attrition where possible. We will engage in careful consideration and communication about decisions like this that impact people and their families.
Marjorie Kostelnik, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, has accepted a new role within the University of Nebraska system leading implementation of the budget response team recommendations. Marjorie will become senior associate to President Hank Bounds on July 1. She will focus on helping the budget response teams drive cost savings—while protecting the university's mission in teaching, research and service.
Changing the way we do business will take time—and will have a broad impact across the university. For example, new processes in how we contract with vendors will save money in the long term, but may interrupt (or slow down) purchasing within colleges or departments as we adjust.
We are moving with a sense of urgency, but we’re balancing urgency with getting this right. We want to put changes in place that will position the University of Nebraska for long-term success.
For the most updated information on the implementation process, please visit: https://nebraska.edu/brt.
President Bounds and the chancellors encourage University of Nebraska faculty, staff, and students to share their questions, comments and ideas on the budget process. Examples of innovation, savings or process improvements that have already been implemented are also welcome. Submit your ideas here.
Director of Communications, University of Nebraska