Chancellor invokes APC budget-cutting process

Chancellor invokes APC budget-cutting process
$2.9 million in cuts to be decided by July 1

Love Library cupola glows red over downtown Lincoln as the sun sets to the west on Nov. 15.
Craig Chandler | University Communication

Chancellor Ronnie Green met April 11 with the Faculty Senate’s Academic Planning Committee to launch the next steps for cutting the university’s budget in response to reduced state appropriations.

The Academic Planning Committee approved Green’s proposed budget framework and timeline, which calls for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to cut its ongoing spending by $2.9 million per year, beginning in 2018-19.

The action was a procedural step to invoke the budget-cutting process. Green has not yet delivered specific cut proposals to the APC. Those proposals are to be made public April 19, after their delivery to the APC for review. At this time, the committee hopes to complete its review, which includes public hearings, before the end of the 2017-18 academic year. The reductions are to take effect July 1, the start of the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Green said his proposal will be a mixture of program cuts and other reductions, with an aim of protecting academic degree programs. He noted that the Legislature’s decision to soften the university’s budget cut, to 1 percent instead of the 4 percent originally proposed, will give the university significantly more leeway.

“We will try to protect, at all costs, academic degree-granting programs,” Green told the APC. “With the smaller number approved by the Legislature, we can consider how to align the cuts to minimally damage academic programs.”

The APC is a universitywide group responsible for formulating and recommending academic and planning goals and initiatives for the university in the areas of education, research and service. The university’s system of shared governance calls for the APC to review proposed budget cuts and make recommendations before they are implemented.

The APC will hold public hearings on the proposals in late April or early May and discuss its recommendations with the chancellor in early May. Green is to announce his decision by June 1, with cuts to be implemented July 1.

Gov. Pete Ricketts signed budget bills April 4 that reduced state funding to the University of Nebraska system by $11 million in 2017-18 and by $6 million in 2018-19.

Although the state budget was resolved more favorably to the University of Nebraska system than originally proposed, it nonetheless will require permanent budget cuts across the system, including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the system’s flagship and its premier land-grant research institution.

The state budget decision also requires the flagship institution to return $5.7 million of its 2017-18 appropriation to the state before June 30. Green did not invoke the APC process for that requirement, saying the campus would work to comply by managing cash flow and dipping into cash reserves.

This will be the second set of budget reductions to be considered by the APC during this academic year.

The latest reductions come in addition to a previous round of budget cuts totaling $3.4 million that were finalized in February after APC review. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln also has been part of a system-wide effort to find operational efficiencies, which will result in $11.4 million in savings in 2018-19.

Green warned APC members they should be prepared for additional reductions if the state’s tax revenue situation does not improve.