The University of Wyoming has a plan to reduce their annual budget by $15.7 million.

This plan was submitted yesterday to Governor Matt Mead who recently called on all state agencies to prepare for an 8 percent annual budget reductions in light of declines in state revenues and a decrease in natural gas prices. University of Wyoming officials gathered campus-wide feedback in drafting the plan, seeking to protect “…the academic enterprise to the maximum extent possible.

Though the proposal sought to reduce as much non-personnel expenses as possible, personnel salaries command such a significant portion of the UW budget that layoffs seem more than likely.

Citing the fact that 75 percent of the university’s budget comes from salaries, President Tom Buchanan said:

“…given a reduction of this magnitude, it appears inevitable that UW will need to make reductions in the size of its workforce.”

“We will endeavor to retain positions most closely aligned with the university’s core mission and our areas of distinction identified in UW’s strategic plan.”

The plan does call for a reduction of non-personnel expenses of 14 percent with a mere 3.5 percent personnel expense cut. The 3.5 percent personnel expense woud save UW approximately $6.5 million annually and eliminate 80 to 125 positions.

The non-personnel reductions would lower instructional support budgets such as equipment maintenance and student research funds. Cuts in the operating budget would also reach into intercollegiate athletics, lowering outreach opportunities, scholarships, recruiting, equipment and team travel. the non-personnel reductions would also cut physical plant services, reducing rates of repair and upkeep.

Two of the most direct cuts would be seen by UW’s School of Energy Resources and University of Wyoming scholarships. The School of Energy Resources would lose over $800,000 while UW-funded, non-Hathaway student scholarships would see a $2.3 million reduction.

While the 8 percent reduction asked by Governor Mead has not been imposed, nor has there been an indication of such, UW officials say they plan to begin eliminating positions through attrition in the 2012-2013 fiscal year in an effort to minimize the need for layoffs in the following fiscal year.

“We recognize the prudence of the governor and Legislature in asking for budget reduction plans, given the declining price of natural gas and its negative effect on state revenues,” said Buchanan. “We also know that budget reductions will unavoidably impact our ability to provide quality higher education in the state. Our goal is to accomplish the reductions in a way that preserves, to the maximum extent possible, our core educational mission and UW’s academic quality and stature.”

To further discuss the issue, University of Wyoming director of Institutional Communications Chad Baldwin will join Kari Eakins on the Thursday morning edition of Laramie Live.