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EKU Budget Update - March 22, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

Today, I bring you information about a serious budget scenario for our University.  As you may know, the total budget impact for Eastern Kentucky University is expected to land at approximately $25 million over Fiscal Years 2019-20.

Initial acknowledgement of the proposed cuts and pension obligations prompted me to appoint a Budget Advisory Committee to work with all University areas. The committee was charged to deliver strategic recommendations that would capture $25 million in savings.  The group has completed face-to-face meetings with stakeholders across campus and has compiled recommendations based on feedback from the campus community.

I thank the entire Budget Advisory Committee for its commitment to EKU, its acceptance of a difficult challenge, and its delivery of a comprehensive set of recommendations for consideration.

Understanding that this is a stressful process for University students, employees, alumni, and constituents, it is important that we share timely information when possible so that awareness of the committee’s work is relayed to the University community. Although deliberations of the recommendations continue, certain aspects of this report can be shared at this point in the process.

The following are the major components of our financial obligations addressed by the Budget Advisory Committee:

  • Increased KERS Obligation: $10 million
  • Expected KTRS Increase: $2-3 million
  • Mid-year FY 18: $650,000
  • FY 19-20: $4,060,769 (6.25%)
  • FY 19-20 Additional Cuts: $350,000
  • Decreased Tuition Revenue: $4-$6 million

For EKU to cope with obligations of this magnitude, there will be losses and long-term transformations. To meet our financial goal, the University simply cannot afford all the functions it has historically supported. EKU has no choice but to offer fewer programs, support limited activities and re-evaluate the structure of many areas at the University. While it is difficult to anticipate the evolving realities of today’s higher education landscape, the recommendations of the EKU Budget Advisory Committee equitably position us to meet our financial obligations and to continue supplying a vigorous educational experience to the citizens of the Commonwealth and beyond.

Strategic Budgeting Process

A recurring request during the committee’s work was assurance that all areas of campus participated in the budget process. I will address this in terms of percentages contributed to the overall financial goal charged to the committee. I believe this reaffirms that no one area will shoulder the load, and that all areas of the University must share the burden to reach our financial objectives.

At this time, the recommendations yield approximately $25.1 million in cost savings across Fiscal Years 2019-20.

The breakdown by area in terms of the percentage of unencumbered budget reduction and dollar amount includes:

 budget chart
The “Strategy Total” for the University category represents strategies that were outside of individual VP areas. The amount yielded by these strategies is included in the table.

Primary Recommendations

EKU must remain a “School of Opportunity.” One of our proudest monikers is the status as Kentucky’s premier school of opportunity for students from all walks of life. More than 50 percent of EKU graduates are first-generation students, low-income students, or both. EKU is their launching pad to better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. To continue providing this core service, we must do everything possible to acknowledge and preserve the “student experience” at EKU. This “student experience” includes both in-classroom and out-of-classroom activities that produce well rounded, critically thinking students. The strategies included in the committee’s report protect students to the greatest extent possible, including programs, scholarship and services.

Please understand that the details of these primary recommendations affect the jobs and livelihoods of EKU employees. I can only provide a general listing at this time. Details will be released after the Board’s final decision at its regular meeting on April 6.

At this time, primary recommendations include:

  • A reduction in force that affects filled positions, vacant positions, and RTP partial lines in both academic and administrative areas totaling approximately 200 positions
  • The elimination of upper-level Administrative and Academic roles
  • A reduction of funding for all of EKU Athletics to be consistent with the goals and level of our athletic programs within the Ohio Valley Conference and possible entire elimination of one or two non-revenue-generating sport teams.
  • Closure of the Danville regional campus
  • Academic Program suspensions as identified by Academic Affairs and evaluated by the Council on Academic Affairs and the EKU Faculty Senate
  • Review of downsizing, centralizing, and/or outsourcing options of University services
  • Increased revenue generation by creating new online offerings of high-demand EKU programs, including Criminal Justice, Business Administration, Communication Studies and Sport Management.

These recommendations touch every area of the institution, including Athletics, Academic Affairs, Student Success, Regional Stewardship, Finance and Administration, Development and Alumni Relations, and other University offices.

Next steps in the process will include:

  • Board of Regents review of these recommendations on April 6
  • Appointment of an implementation team that will work to ensure that the approved recommendations are put into effect and completed

Although every area feels the effects of this budget reduction, EKU’s commitment to educating students will not waver in spite of tough financial hardship. During tough times, it is important that we all work together to overcome challenges. I have witnessed the “Colonel Spirit” many times, and it is powerful. We must call upon our character and abilities to put the well-being of EKU first. The “School of Opportunity” has a wealth of outstanding programs, distinguished faculty and unmatched support services. And that is a winning recipe for the success of all students who knock on our door searching to better their lives through a quality education. We owe it to our co-workers and especially our students to emerge from this situation as a stronger force of good for our students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Commonwealth.

For more information about the Budget Advisory Committee’s work, visit

Thank you for your continued service.

Mike Benson

Published on March 22, 2018

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