HAYS, KS -- Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, told faculty and staff during a special forum this afternoon that the budget approved this week for the university will require some cuts in programs and positions.
However, the president quickly pointed out that the university achieved its top priority -- significant salary increases for teaching faculty -- and he said that Fort Hays State had actually been treated well considering the economic reality of a slowing economy.
"This isn't the budget that I wanted, but given that the state had a $205 million shortfall in revenue, this isn't the budget that the state wanted either," he said. "All things considered, we fared pretty well."
It has been an unusual budget year, and the special forum at 3 p.m. in FHSU's Memorial Union was necessary so that President Hammond could give a budget report directly to the university community. He usually reports on the budget during his State of the University speech at the regular General Faculty Meeting, but this year the Legislature was still struggling to complete the budget when that meeting took place last week.
Hammond said that the Legislature and Gov. Bill Graves had actually treated Fort Hays State well by comparison with the overall state budget. The new $4.45 billion general fund budget for the state is an increase of 0.7 percent from the current year, he said, while FHSU's new general fund budget will increase by 2.88 percent. The total FHSU budget, including money returned by the state from tuition payments, was increased by 2.77 percent.
Unfortunately, though, the increase is not adequate to cover all existing programs and some new expenses mandated by the Legislature. To meet all these expenses, FHSU would have needed $1,552,746. The university will receive $1,099,504, which leaves a shortfall of $453,242. In order to provide some flexibility, the university will make $488,243 in cuts:
· Reduce instructional equipment, $133,000.
· Capture merit and enhancement funds from vacant positions, $61,000.
· Eliminate the physical therapy program, $193,944.
· Freeze hiring for two vacant Physical Plant positions, $40,154.
· Switch one Student Affairs position to non-general-use funding, $15,200.
· Eliminate one vacant Modern Languages teaching position, $44,945.
The physical therapy program has been in the development stage, and no students had yet been admitted to the graduate program, which would have had slots for 12 students. The undergraduate program in pre-physical therapy will continue in the Department of Biology. Eliminating the graduate physical therapy program required elimination of two faculty positions and a secretary. The secretary will be reallocated to another vacant position.
"The two faculty members who were impacted by this reduction have known for some time," Hammond said. "We're trying to make sure that as few students as possible are negatively impacted by these cuts, and that faculty and staff are positively impacted by salary increases."
The new budget specifies raises of 3 percent -- 1.5 percent in July and another 1.5 percent in March 2002. In addition, though, the Legislature approved a 3.2 percent enhancement for the salaries of teaching faculty. That is a step that was promised in a previous session when the Legislature reorganized higher education. Legislators recognized at the time that faculty at all six Kansas Board of Regents universities were paid significantly less than their counterparts at peer institutions, and it initiated a series of enhancements to correct that deficiency.
Teaching faculty at Fort Hays State recently organized under the state's meet and confer statutes, so those members of the faculty who are represented by the FHSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors will not receive raises until the negotiating teams have reached agreement. The entire 6.2 percent base increase will be set aside until the contract is settled.
"These decisions lay the groundwork for building the fiscal year 2002 budget, which begins July 1," the president said. "Every year we reallocate some resources based on our assessment of changing needs."
One decision yet to be reached is the fate of the Stroke Treatment and Research Center, which was supervised by one of the faculty members in the physical therapy program.
The new budget also grants a 1 percent increase for the university's "other operating expenses," but that increase will not be passed through to individual offices and departments. Instead, it will be used to cover other expenses, including an anticipated $200,000 increase in the cost of natural gas and electricity.
"In my 14 years here, we've never had to make permanent base budget reductions," President Hammond said. "We have had to make mid-year reductions, but those were always returned the next fiscal year. The cuts this year are permanent."
"It was a tough budget year," he concluded. "It's not a budget that I wanted, but we'll make it work."