EKU President Warns of Possible Layoffs

Feb 9, 2013

Eastern Kentucky University's president warned of possible campus layoffs as part of a multi-million-dollar budget reallocation meant to free up money to bolster academic programs and boost salaries for faculty and staff.

In an email this week to faculty and staff, EKU President Doug Whitlock did not specify how many jobs might be cut or when. EKU has about 2,100 full-time faculty and staff on its main campus in Richmond and regional campuses in Corbin, Danville, Manchester and Somerset.

"There will be no way to accomplish what we need to do without a reduction in our work force," Whitlock said. "I am committed to this being a fair and humane process, but it must also be one driven by our decisions relative to core mission."

The university released the email to the media on Friday.

In an interview, Whitlock said he hoped the "vast majority" of personnel reductions could be accomplished through attrition as employees retire or take jobs elsewhere.

"Layoffs would be our last option, but I certainly can't rule them out at this point," he said Friday.

The staffing cuts would be part of a university-wide effort to reallocate about 10 percent, or about $23 million, of the school's budget. A task force of campus leaders appointed by Whitlock will offer recommendations.

"The budget reduction, while deep and permanent, will allow for reallocation of funds in the future for such things as faculty and staff raises, program improvements and new strategic initiatives," Whitlock said in the email. "While every dollar does not need to be `freed' up by the time we adopt the 2013-14 budget, they do need to be identified and a commitment made."

The last faculty and staff pay raise at EKU was two years ago, he said.

Eastern's current budget, amounting to about $230 million, runs through June 30. The reallocations would not reduce the overall budget, but the reshuffling will result in cuts to some programs.

Whitlock said every part of the school's budget will be reviewed, adding that "there are no pre-determined exemptions. I expect the recommendations to be driven by our core mission and that they will not be a common, across-the-board percentage."

The reshuffling comes in the final months of Whitlock's tenure at the 15,300-student university. Whitlock, an EKU graduate, announced last year that he will retire effective July 31, a year before his contract was to expire. The school is searching for a new president.

"Decisions regarding reallocation of funds in the future will be influenced by the vision of the person selected to succeed me as president," Whitlock said.

Elsewhere, University of Louisville President James Ramsey updated faculty and staff this week on efforts to craft a campus budget for the next fiscal year.

"We will do everything we can to give a recurring salary increase to faculty and staff and to hold tuition increases to a reasonable rate," Ramsey said Thursday.

University of Louisville spokesman Mark Hebert said no university-wide layoffs are anticipated this year or in the next fiscal year.

At Murray State University, a budget review is under way but what's being looked at is "nothing close to 10 percent at this point in time," Murray spokeswoman Catherine Sivills said Friday. Murray State President Randy Dunn will recommend possible budget reductions to the school's board of regents in March, ahead of expected board action in May on the school's next budget, she said.