KU Lawrence Campus Budget
updated 5/30/2018 to reflect the new location for the town hall (Kansas Union Ballroom).
I am a firm believer in establishing transparency and trust among our community of students, faculty and staff, and there is no easy way to share the following information with you other than to simply share it. The University of Kansas Lawrence campus faces substantial, but reparable, budget circumstances that require our immediate attention and action.
Our campus must enact measures to cut our budget by 5.87 percent across the board ($20 million). This situation is the result of years of many long-term commitments and investments that each year exceeded our revenue, combined with institutional budgeting practices inconsistent with the current challenges of higher-education funding and a decade-long trend of declines in state funding. Staying the current course is not an option — if we make no changes in the coming year we will have overspent our budget with no remaining balances to support this overspending, and operations will be short a minimum of $50 million within five years. Spreading the cut over several years also is not an option. This tactic costs us more financially; perpetuates a climate of uncertainty about job security, raises, and tuition costs; and keeps us in a constant state of want and need rather than advancing us toward a position of stability that we all deserve. Over the past few weeks, I’ve worked closely with Chancellor Girod, and we are in agreement about the need for a response that immediately puts us on a sustainable fiscal path.
The map to move us forward readjusts our budget to meet our obligations and helps us put our students, staff and faculty first. This includes a commitment to keep tuition increases as low as possible and to enact a plan for getting back to annual merit raises, even if small at first.
The Office of the Provost, in close partnership with the Chancellor’s Office, has already begun to make difficult decisions to limit spending in central administration and to forge a longer-term plan that includes the development of a new budget model to better support KU into the future. Moreover, our deans and vice provosts are now exploring how they can best accommodate the cuts they will need to make. Most importantly, we believe these measures combined with existing positives — including partial budget restorations from the Kansas Legislature and stable enrollments at a time when many other universities have seen decreases — will lead to quick recovery and sustainability moving forward. We have a difficult year ahead, but I ask for your trust and patience. In return, I will share the plans we develop to improve our situation and offer you a pledge to — as much as possible — build these plans around our people who come here to learn, work, and serve.
Because it’s not practical to explain every aspect of our budget in this message, I will hold informational sessions where I’ll share detailed information about our budget, prior spending, and future plans. I will answer your questions and I want to hear your concerns. I also hope to demonstrate that, despite this adversity, we can become a stronger KU. The first of these information sessions will begin at 4 p.m., Wednesday, June 6, in the Ballroom of the Kansas Union. While the session officially will end at 5 p.m., I’ll stay to answer questions until the last person leaves. This session will be livestreamed and recorded, as I know this is occurring in the summer and many of you will be unable to attend in person.
I do not find it easy to share such difficult news only a month after stepping into this role, but I am firm in my resolve to do it. I am thankful, though, for the support I’ve received from my leadership team to call for this course of action. Moreover, having gotten to know many members of our campus community during my two years in the College, I know that across campus we have a shared goal to advance KU together. Your ideas can be crucial elements of what, I am certain, will be our success. Please share them with me by email, or anonymously through this form.
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor