Allison Preston helps a student at the CEU book store. What the campus personnel situation will look like next year when students are getting ready to start classes is still up in the air because large budget cuts loom over all the colleges in the state for the next academic year.
A letter, via e-mail, from interim College of Eastern Utah President Mike King on Monday morning shocked some people, while others said they knew that this year wasn't the end of budget woes for the Price school.
In the e-mail King spelled out the problem the campus is having and will continue to have as long as the economy is in a slump. On July 1, 2010 the school will have to absorb another $1.5 million in cuts, on top of the $1.7 million that was cut out from this year's budget.
King said that for this year the school has had to reduce its operating expenses by 25 percent. They also had employees pick up 15 percent of their personal medical insurance premiums, cut the Utah State University partnership fund by $250,000, eliminated 20 full and part time positions on campus, raised tuition by 9 percent and also reduced some miscellaneous budgets.
"Fortunately we were able to reach or target (for 2009) without layoffs," stated King in the e-mail. "It will be extremely difficult to reach this year's cuts. Because operational expenses were cut so deeply for this year, we won't be able to cut in that area again. Our target will have to be reached in great measure through cuts in personnel and programs."
Because of the pressure the school is under to make cuts, King pointed out that the special retirement program the school offers is still in place. The policy allows employees 56 years old or older with 15 years of service to retire with medical benefits and compensation considerations. King also pointed out that because of cuts and the economy being what it is that "it is unclear at this point what special retirement opportunities there will be beyond this year."
A number of employees that retired in the last year have already not been replaced. Some of them had job duties that were spread amongst other people, in other cases programs were changed.
King even left the door open for those that might like to leave, that don't qualify for special retirement benefits. For those King pointed out that those that "are interested in discussing a severance incentive should contact the appropriate administrator or the HR office."
He said however, nothing is guaranteed in any case and all situations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Some on campus had thought the contemplated merger with USU would solve some of the budget problems, but as King pointed out "USU is also challenged with cuts and will need to reduce their budget by approximately $13 million before July 1..."
Presently negotiations concerning details of the merger in which CEU will become an independent branch of the Logan school is going on almost department by department. Last month Cory L. Duckworth, vice president of student affairs at Utah Valley University was named to head up the transition because of his experience in doing a similar thing with two schools in Michigan a few years ago.
King said that the administration will be conferring with the campus departments, the budget committee, the college senate and the Board of Trustees as they work through this next year's budget process and where the school will have to reduce costs.