Regents Approve Budget Reallocation Plans

The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents, meeting in special session on Tuesday, March 19, approved a plan to “Reinvest in Eastern Kentucky University.” The plan has the goal of reallocating 10 percent ($23 million) of the University’s operating budget for the support of strategic initiatives.

To address the staffing reductions such a plan will require, the Regents also unanimously approved a Staff Voluntary Buyout Program (VBP), Staff Reduction in Force Program (Staff RIF) and an Enhanced Retirement Transition Program (ERTP) for Faculty.

The programs, all effective Wednesday, March 20, will assist the University in addressing budgetary constraints due to declining state appropriations and potential budget reductions in the forthcoming fiscal years. Developed and recommended by the University’s Strategic Budget Reallocation Task Force, the programs provide an opportunity to adjust the University’s financial and human resources to meet the University’s Strategic Plan goals and state mandates for recruiting, retention, and growth of the University. To learn more, visit hr.eku.edu/strategic-reallocation-programs.

“We have a superior university, and our goal is to make sure we remain on that path,” said Craig Turner, chair of the Board.

Before it discussed the individual programs, the Board approved a resolution that conveyed the rationale behind the budget reallocation.

The resolution reiterated the Board’s commitment to ensure that the University’s financial resources are adequate to: provide a sound educational program; preserve, protect and enrich the academic mission; provide student support programs, services and activities consistent with its mission that promote student learning and enhance student development; provide for adequate physical resources; enhance the University’s recruitment, retention and graduation rates; enhance the recruitment and retention of highly qualified faculty and staff in numbers adequate to support EKU’s mission; and “provide for the overall financial viability, sustainability, growth and institutional efficiency and effectiveness to enable (the University) to enhance its contributions to the educational attainment, economic prosperity, and quality of life of the University’s service region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

The resolution noted that EKU has experienced a 15.2 percent decline in state support over the last five years and that approximately 10 percent of EKU’s Educational and General budget is comprised of fixed costs, which continue to rise. It also noted that 70 percent of the University’s Educational and General budget is devoted to personnel.

The Staff Voluntary Buyout Program (VBP) is designed to provide eligible staff employees who voluntarily elect to separate employment with the University with severance pay and severance benefits. Eligible employees must apply and be approved for participation in the Staff VBP. The Executive Director of Human Resources will be the VBP Administrator. To see the terms of the Staff VBP, including eligibility and benefits, as well as the rights and obligations of employees, see hr.eku.edu/staff-voluntary-buyout-program and hr.eku.edu/staff-vbp-frequently-asked-questions.  To learn more about the Staff VBP, interested employees are encouraged to attend one of two informational sessions: Thursday, March 21, 2-3:30 p.m. in Brock Auditorium or Friday, March 22, 9:30-11 a.m. in Posey Auditorium in the Stratton Building.

The Staff Reduction in Force (RIF) Program establishes a process for the elimination of regular full-time staff positions, ensures that staff members are released in a fair and equitable manner, and provides for reasonable transition assistance for those whose positions are eliminated. The RIF Program is defined as an involuntary separation of a staff member from employment due to a shortage of funds, lack of work, organizational changes, re-design or elimination of position(s), reorganization, or other business reason(s) with no likelihood or expectation that the staff member will be re-employed, because the position itself is eliminated. To learn more about RIF, see hr.eku.edu/staff-reduction-force-program and hr.eku.edu/rif-frequently-asked-questions.

The Enhanced Retirement Transition Program (ERTP) for faculty is based upon the existing Retirement Transition Program (RTP), Policy 4.6.9, which describes the purpose of the RTP as a way to “assist academic planners as they more effectively reallocate resources to meet program objectives and student needs in an increasingly dynamic environment.” To learn more about the ERTP, visit hr.eku.edu/enhanced-retirement-transition-program. Provost Janna Vice will present informational sessions on the ERTP on Friday, March 22, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Posey Auditorium of the Stratton Building and on Tuesday, March 26 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Room 11 of the Powell Building.

A review of academic programs will be completed by April 1, it was noted.

The overall budget reallocation plan will be implemented over a two-year period (Fiscal Years 2013-14 and 2014-15).

EKU President Doug Whitlock said he is “confident ‘The Essential Eastern’ will emerge stronger than ever from this process, and that a streamlined, more efficient university will be better positioned to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

The Board’s action came a day after the University’s Presidential Search and Screening Committee announced three finalists to succeed Whitlock as the University’s 12th president. Whitlock announced last August his intention to retire, effective July 31 of this year. The three presidential finalists will be on the Richmond campus March 24-28 and April 1-3 for a series of tours, meetings and open forums.

Published on March 20, 2013