Board Approves 2013-14 Budget

The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents, meeting in regular session on Friday, June 14, approved a 2013-14 operating budget of approximately $332 million (including auxiliary and restricted funds), up .4 percent from the previous year.

The budget includes $19.7 million identified by EKU’s Strategic Budget Reallocation Task Force. The 22-member Task Force, representing each division of the institution, was established earlier this year as part of an effort to assist the University in identifying funds that could be reallocated to provide more flexibility for EKU’s 12th President (Dr. Michael Benson was named in April and will assume office Aug. 1) to make strategic decisions, including improved salaries and benefits for faculty and staff. It has not yet been determined specifically how the reallocated funds will be utilized.

To address the staffing reductions necessary to achieve a 10 percent reallocation, the Regents had earlier approved a Staff Voluntary Buyout Program, a Staff Reduction in Force Program and an Enhanced Retirement Transition Program for faculty. Together, the plans resulted in 180 staff opting for the Voluntary Buyout and 16 faculty choosing Enhanced Early Retirement, leaving fewer than 20 staff members affected by the involuntary Reduction in Force Program.

Craig Turner, chair of the Board, praised the work of the Task Force and thanked all those involved in the process. “The Board chose to do this internally as a reflection of the faith we have in our people,” he said. “It was a very hard task … but really important to the future of the University.”

The Task Force noted in its report that a communication plan to gather input and keep the campus abreast of the group’s progress was a top priority. Among steps taken to ensure an open process:

·         A designated anonymous survey link was established by Institutional Research for communicating directly with the Task Force.

·         A designated e-mail link for communicating with the Task Force was established by Information Technology.

·         As of June 1, approximately 145 students, staff and faculty e-mails had been submitted to the Task Force, and all e-mails were answered by a Task Force member or designee.

·         Also as of June 1, the Task Force had received almost 200 anonymous submissions to the survey link provided by Institutional Research.

·         The Task Force received regular updates regarding campus input, and suggestions were forwarded to appropriate campus leaders. 

·         Nine campus-wide e-mails were sent updating the campus community of the work being performed by the Task Force.

·         Communication with and input from campus was also achieved via the University’s organizational structure, including Faculty Senate and the Financial and Strategic Planning Council.

Janet Craig, chair of the Board’s Finance and Planning Committee, said the reallocation process will remain open as the University continues to explore opportunities for cost savings.

The Task Force’s complete report is available online at regents.eku.edu/sites/regents.eku.edu/files/files/SBRR.pdf or accessible from a link on the University’s home page (www.eku.edu).

At its April meeting, the Board had approved a 2.95 percent increase in undergraduate tuition for Kentucky residents, a $500-per-year tuition increase for all grades at Model Laboratory School, a 5 percent hike in residence hall rates, and an average increase of no more than 3 percent in meal plan rates.

In other business, the Board:

·         Approved new catalog language for the Colonel Connection program, designed to make the transfer process from other colleges to EKU more seamless.

·         Thanked retiring President Doug Whitlock for his service. Barring a special Board meeting, this was Whitlock’s last meeting with the Board. His last day with the University is July 31.

·         Granted Regent Emeritus honors to outgoing Board member Gary Abney, who has served 14 years, including three as chair.

·         Granted Staff Emeritus honors to Virginia Underwood, assistant secretary for the Board, upon her retirement as Executive Director of Policy Compliance and Governance.

*         Presented resolutions honoring outgoing members Abney and Student Regent Madelyn Street for their service to the Board.

Published on June 14, 2013