n-greenbudgetproposal Alec Gettert

As the University of Nebraska-Lincoln faces an approximate $23.2 million budget deficit, it has become clear that permanent cuts are necessary. 

On Friday, Chancellor Ronnie Green publicly announced his recommendations to permanently lower the UNL budget by almost $10.8 million, with the remaining $12.4 million deficit expected to be recovered through future enrollment.

To make these reductions, Green has proposed eliminating 10% of administrative salary costs, cutting vacant faculty and staff positions and shifting some other staff positions from state support to alternative funding and cutting vacant faculty and staff positions. Some currently occupied staff roles will be eliminated as well. He also included a variety of operating budget cuts.

Green’s recommendations didn't include cuts to existing professor salaries. He also said that a conversation with the University of Nebraska Board of Regents about the sustainability of the current tuition freeze is anticipated, citing rapidly escalating costs.

Green made these recommendations to the Academic Planning Committee on Wednesday, April 14 before releasing them publicly. The APC will review this plan and conduct hearings as needed until May 26, when it will make its recommendations to the chancellor.

These final recommendations, if accepted, will be made public on June 1.

This deficit is primarily a result of declines in enrollment from high-graduating classes and complications with international enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with increased remissions, according to the Budget Reduction Framework.

In his proposal, Green recommended cutting vacant staff positions and budgets throughout multiple areas, accumulating to around $4.1 million in reductions. This includes eliminating positions of those planning to retire or leave and budgets for unfilled positions.

Staff and faculty across different colleges and offices will receive funding from other sources, including private or grant funding, instead of state-aided funds, according to Green. Moving positions to alternative funding across UNL accumulates to almost $2 million in proposed cut funds.

One administrative position in the chancellor’s office would be eliminated. Both the College of Business and the College of Engineering would have a staff position eliminated.

Love Library South and Dinsdale Family Learning Commons would close at 10 p.m. instead of 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, which would cut the need for community service officers and reduce student worker wage budgets by $114,640.

Most of the additional cuts come from reducing operations costs across facilities, along with a $400,000 cut in the summer session's instructional budgets.

The full list of proposed budget reductions can be found here.

In his letter, Green highlighted that he has already reduced the UNL state-aided budget by over $66 million in the past seven years.

Green said budgets are expected to be challenging for the foreseeable future, as the University of Nebraska is anticipated to have budget reductions in the next two fiscal years.

“Higher education as a whole is facing significant headwinds in the years ahead, and we are not immune at UNL,” Green wrote.

Green has appointed a UNL-wide Strategic Budget Planning Task Force to address these further cuts. It will bring forward recommendations to Green by June 1, subject to consideration by the APC in the upcoming year.

That committee will be chaired by Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Mike Zeleny and will include the executive vice chancellor, vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, vice chancellor for research and economic development and every dean, Green said.  

To minimize future budget reductions, Green emphasized the necessity of improving revenue from enrollment.   

“We all must be successful in recruiting new students,” Green wrote. “We all must ensure the success and retention of our existing students. And we must always be mindful in our use of tuition discounting and balance that with our budget needs.”

Green said the reduction proposals do not include cuts to any academic programs, though future reductions will “no doubt require such consideration”.