LARAMIE, Wyo. — University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols says that she’s confident the institution will emerge from its financial woes stronger and more focused.
In delivering her first state of the university speech Thursday to faculty, staff and students, Nichols noted various accomplishments at the college for the last year, such as faculty awards, the opening of new buildings and work with the state’s community colleges.
“It shows you that things are alive and well at the University of Wyoming,” she said.
But Nichols said Thursday that the future of the university depends on relying less on the state Legislature for funding. She said UW must increase its enrollment and review its tuition and fees, which she said are among the lowest in the nation.
Nichols started the job in May just as the state’s only public, four-year university was beginning the process of accounting for the loss of $35 million in state aid because of a decline in state energy revenue. In addition, the university must reallocate an additional $6 million from within its budget for utilities and improvements to its accounting system for a total budget hit of $41 million. Nichols declared a financial emergency.
The university has since identified about $19 million in cuts in the current 2017 fiscal year and a special committee is working to find another $15 million in savings in the 2018 fiscal year.
Many of the budget cuts have been accomplished by eliminating vacant positions, asking faculty to do more classroom instruction, offering early retirement incentives and trimming benefit expenses.
Nichols is scheduled to present a plan in November to the UW Board of Trustees that details the new budget cuts she and the committee has identified.