Ohio University Targets Jobs And $30+ Million In Cuts

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ATHENS, Ohio — The president of Ohio University said they will not be able to meet target budget reductions “without reducing positions in most if not all colleges and administrative divisions.”

Dr. Duane Nellis

Duane Nellis, in an email sent to OU employees Friday, wrote that to address an imbalance in the school’s operating spending, an analysis recommends $26 million in incremental cuts to college budgets over the next three years and at least $8 million in reductions to administrative units.

Measure have been taken to limit the impact of budget reductions on the “Academic Core,” according to Nellis.

“As we collectively analyze reductions, they must be strategic. We must streamline administrative functions and share services so we can focus investment on our students’ academic needs.”

The Board of Trustees approved $65 million in reserves to be used through Fiscal Year 2024 for academics. In February, the university also introduced the Voluntary Separation Agreement and Early Retirement Incentive Program to encourage position reductions.

In December, the university began to restrict hiring. Nellis, his executive vice president and provost Chaden Djalali and Deb Shaffer, senior vice president for Finance and Administration, meet weekly to determine which jobs can be filled. A journalist position in the WOUB newsroom, which serves as a “learning lab” for students, is one of more than 30 positions, as of January 16, 2020, denied or placed on hold since the implementation of that committee.

But in Friday’s email Nellis wrote that measures like these alone will not be enough to “achieve operational savings in response to forecasted reductions in enrollment revenues and inflationary impacts on our expense base.”

Read Nellis’ “Positioning the University for a Positive and Stronger Future” email.

Academic and administrative units have yet to find out how budget cuts will affect their operations for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. According to Robin Oliver, vice president of University Communications and Marketing,  “Academic and administrative divisional leadership have been iteratively working through budget reductions since 2018 when enrollment trends began to shift. A number of reduction models are being explored in response to Ohio University’s latest enrollment projections, and until plans are finalized we cannot comment on the percentage of reductions to operating budgets in any particular area.”

Ohio University holds WOUB Public Media’s license to operate.