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Creative solutions

Budget crisis a high priority at K-State


Calling the current state budget crisis "unprecedented times," several K-State administrators have been meeting with faculty, staff and students across campus since summer to discuss the university's financial position. Most recently, Bruce Shubert, vice president for administration and finance; M. Duane Nellis, provost and senior vice president; and Pat Bosco, vice president for student life, are holding public forums to share information, discuss strategy and listen. Ruth Dyer, associate provost; and Cindy Bontrager, budget director, also are participating.

Bruce ShubertThose meetings continue -- and the remaining ones are listed in the box on this page. Forums are open to all interested parties. Especially encouraged to attend are executive staff, department heads, faculty senators, College Committee on Planning members, student senators, student college council members and classified senators.

Each forum begins with a presentation outlining the budget problems and asking for input from the university community on creative ways to approach bleak financial times.

"The governor's budget calls for 3 percent cuts in 2009 and an additional 4 percent in 2010. It was prepared before the December revenues were known," Shubert said. "Those revenues were down $50 million, making the budget situation even worse." He said the next revenue report will be released in April.

Among the possible challenges for K-State is a recommended unfunded 1 percent salary increase for next year, Shubert said. If adopted by the Legislature, K-State would need to find the money for that increase on top of other salary obligations, such as funding fringe benefit cost increases, funding pay increases related to the second year of the classified pay plan and providing funding for faculty promotions.

K-State already has cut costs by cancelling searches for the dean of the Graduate School and dean of the Division of Continuing Education. Also, the administration has suspended filling the posts of associate vice president of administration and finance and vice president for institutional advancement. Funding for Targeted Excellence also is being reduced.

budget meetingNellis said it is important to maintain the high quality of K-State's educational experience, "Reductions will be mission driven, with emphasis on maintaining the quality of the student learning experience at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and protecting our research efforts as the highest priority."

"K-State is well known as a student-centered university and we must maintain that focus as we evaluate difficult financial decisions," Bosco said.

Shubert encourages departments to maximize resources through inter-departmental collaboration and cooperation, or through administrative streamlining. Nellis said program/curricular improvements may allow employees to do their jobs smarter and more efficiently.

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Upcoming budget forums
* Jan. 29, 10 a.m., College of Education
* Jan. 29, 3:45 p.m., College of Human Ecology
* Jan. 30, 8 a.m. College of Agriculture
* Feb. 2, 1:30 p.m., College of Arts and Sciences
* Feb. 2, 3:30 p.m., College of Business Administration
* Feb. 3, 3 p.m., College of Architecture, Planning and Design



Photos: (top) Bruce Shubert, K-State's vice president for administration and finance, explains the current budget situation to the College of Engineeringss staff and faculty Thursday, Jan. 22. (bottom) College staff and faculty look on during the budget presentation.