July 5, 2016
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved the 2017 fiscal year budget for Northwestern Oklahoma State University at its meeting on June 30 in Oklahoma City.
Previously, Northwestern’s budget plans were approved by the University’s governing body, the Regional University System of Oklahoma.
University budget writers were faced with crafting a plan to deal with a 16.4 percent cut in state appropriations that eliminated more than $1.6 million in funding. In addition to the funding cuts, Northwestern will face numerous mandatory cost increases, including a jump in health insurance premiums for employees, and complying with new federal Fair Labor Standards Act regulations.
“It was almost a perfect storm when it came to developing the budget,” Dr. Janet Cunningham, University president, said. “The cuts in state appropriations were far greater than expected and certain expenses rose significantly. I have been involved in preparing budgets for a long time and this was the toughest.”
To create a viable budget, Northwestern used a combination of reducing operating expenses and increasing revenue.
The University enters the budget year with 14 fewer employees than it had a year ago.
Beginning July 1, an academic restructuring plan results in the elimination of a dean’s position and associated support staff.
Also in FY17, the University will make changes to the basic health insurance plans of employees that will help offset an estimated 20 percent increase in premiums paid by Northwestern, but will result in higher deductibles for employees and families.
A $19 per credit hour increase in resident tuition and fees also was necessary to partially offset the cuts in state funding. Additional revenue of more than $300,000 generated by gifts and grants also will be used to balance the budget.
“Raising tuition and fees was a difficult decision, but we must protect the core academic functions of the institution and maintain the academic and support services required by students if we are to remain competitive,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said the past few years have been a challenging time in public higher education in Oklahoma, but that the commitment of the faculty and staff at Northwestern has made the difference at the school.
“We have succeeded and moved forward because of faculty and staff who dedicate themselves to helping students realize dreams,” she said. “Many are doing more work with fewer people in their offices and no increase in compensation. I am proud of their service, and the people of Oklahoma should be as well.”
Posted on Tue, July 5, 2016
by Ali Kirtley filed under