May 16, 2009 in City
UI to drop, merge academic programs
Budget also eliminates 62 positions, most vacant
The University of Idaho will eliminate 62 positions and either drop or consolidate about 35 academic programs as part of a plan to cut its budget by $11.7 million next year.
The university will meet its legislated budget cuts by reducing its general education budget by 7 percent and its personnel costs by 5 percent, interim President Steven Daley-Laursen told faculty and staff.
“The deliberate and careful management of fiscal resources by unit leaders across all areas of the university over the past eight months has enabled us to meet the state-mandated requirement without furloughs or salary reductions at this time,” Daley-Laursen said.
Of the 62 positions to be eliminated, 41 have gone unfilled since the university enacted a hiring freeze in September. The other 21 positions will result from nonrenewal of contracts for nontenured professors and staff, said Doug Baker, provost and executive vice president.
The allocation of $4.8 million in federal stimulus funding next academic year, with the same amount expected in 2011, meant the budget reductions weren’t as deep as they could have been. The university also has budgeted $2.2 million of unspent funds from last summer’s strategic reallocations.
In addition, the Idaho State Board of Education has approved a 6.5 percent increase in undergraduate student tuition and fees for the coming year.
Much of the savings will come from the 35 programs being dropped or consolidated in six of the university’s colleges as a result of a lengthy academic prioritization process. Another six programs are under review.
“The faculty and staff worked together to develop the criteria for this process,” Baker said.
Unlike Washington State University’s recent budget announcement, no departments have been targeted for elimination at UI.
But German will no longer be offered on the Palouse, as the UI joins WSU in dropping that language program.
UI also will no longer offer master’s of teaching degrees in chemistry, earth science, geography, physics and biology in the College of Science. It’s dropping several postgraduate degrees in the College of Education.
The College of Agriculture is combining several programs into one undergraduate degree while the College of Natural Resources is consolidating several master’s degree programs into one degree.
About 464 students will be affected by the program reorganizations. Most will be allowed to finish their degrees under the university’s “teach-out” policy, but about 130 students who cannot accelerate their major requirements will have to change their degrees or find another university.
Baker said more fiscal challenges lie ahead. The Idaho Legislature has enacted another $5 million budget cut, which the provost hopes to offset with new revenue and waste reduction.
Contact Kevin Graman at (509) 459-5433 or email@example.com.