UW budget request unchanged

2013-11-23T12:00:00Z UW budget request unchangedBy LEAH TODD Casper Star Tribune The Billings Gazette
November 23, 2013 12:00 pm  • 

Despite a new face at the table during budget deliberations, the University of Wyoming’s budget request remains unchanged following the recent resignation of its president, Bob Sternberg.

That is largely because of the fact that a budget is a universitywide initiative, not the brainchild of any one individual, university officials said.

“The budget priorities are driven by the institutional goals of the university,” said Dick McGinity, UW’s interim vice president for Academic Affairs and the official who has taken over the duties of the president since Sternberg resigned Nov. 14. “The goals have not changed, so the budget priorities have not changed.”

Salary raises for faculty and staff still top the list of priorities, McGinity said. The $13.3 million requested would go toward a roughly 4 percent salary increase based on merit. Also high on the university’s list of priorities is a request for about $18 million — $8.6 million in state funds and $9.2 million in university funds — to implement the university’s vision for a tier I engineering program. Those funds would go to programmatic and capital facilities improvements to UW’s College of Engineering over the next five years, according to a university media release.

Increased funding for expanding partnerships with Wyoming community colleges and technological improvements for students is also high on the list, university officials said.

Much of the effort to draft budget priorities for the upcoming legislative budget session was underway when Sternberg took the helm July 1, UW spokesman Chad Baldwin said.

“(Sternberg) embraced the effort, and the university remains committed to it, even with his departure,” Baldwin said.

The university’s request has been presented to Gov. Matt Mead, Baldwin said, and Mead is expected to release his recommendation to the Legislature in early December. McGinity will testify to the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee about UW’s budget requests in mid-December, Baldwin said. The full Legislature will vote on the university’s budget as part of its budget bill in the session that starts Feb. 10.

A 4 percent pay raise for faculty and staff who deserve it would be a first step toward bringing UW salaries closer to the market average, Baldwin said.

For Faculty Senate Chairman Colin Keeney, it could go a long way toward retaining talented faculty who may otherwise consider leaving UW, where faculty and staff have not seen pay raises for four years.

“It’s like any other profession,” Keeney said. “If you can do what you do at someplace else for more money, you owe it to your family to take the better offer. So we’re seeing a drain.”

A salary increase would also make the university a more attractive location for talented candidates interested in doing work there but are swayed by a larger sum elsewhere, Keeney said.

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