University of Nebraska braces for $50 million in system-wide budget cuts

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By Jasmine Maharisi, Editor-in-Chief

The economic downturn sweeping the nation hasn’t missed UNO.

This fall, Nebraska University President J.B. Milliken announced that the entire NU system – UNO, UNL, UNK and UNMC – was bracing for more than $50 million in potential reductions in 2012 and 2013 due to state funding cuts.

The announcement came at a Sept. 8 Board of Regents meeting in Lincoln.

“This is a special moment in the history of the University of Nebraska,” Milliken said. “While we need to cope with the budget problems, they should not hold us back.”

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman asked all state departments to find ways to shave 10 percent off their budgets for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years in order to make up for a $757 million statewide budget deficit.

One of the ways NU hopes to cut costs is by piloting an early retirement program at UNL. The program, which allows senior faculty members aged 62 and older with 10 years or more of service to retire early, could come to UNO if officials deem it successful at UNL. Faculty members are offered a year’s salary at base rate if they take the early retirement offer. E-mails were sent to all eligible faculty, with retirement beginning in August 2011.

Although Milliken said non-voluntary staff reductions weren’t needed, UNO Chancellor John Christensen said at the Fall 2010 Convocation that the University was reviewing state statutes and mandates in order to “identify possible elimination or modification of those that contribute to duplication of effort or have counterproductive financial or management impact.”

“The economic conditions are indeed daunting, but trust me when I say that this is not the time to hunker down and wait for this storm to pass,” Christensen said at the convocation. “Rather, it’s the time to be bold. We cannot temper our aspirations for the future.  We must seize the moment. We will necessarily make the hard decisions, preserve and strengthen our core mission, and continue to move this great institution forward.” 

Last week, UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman announced his intentions to cut $5 million beginning this fall, which will result in the elimination of several programs and personnel positions at the Lincoln campus.

Christensen said UNO campus recommendations for budget modifications will be given to Milliken in June, who will then present system-wide recommendations to the Board of Regents.

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