The administration, Board of Regents, faculty and staff of Western Oklahoma State College continue to make budget adjustments necessary to respond to the severe budget cuts resulting from multiple revenue failures to Oklahoma’s general revenue fund as well as a significant shortage in the oil gross production revenue. To date, these combined budget shortfalls for Western total more than $510,000.
According to Western’s president, Dr. Phil Birdine, “Cuts of this magnitude can seriously threaten the mission of the institution and eventually setback any progress our region has experienced in terms of economic development.”
In order to address these major cuts in its state appropriation, college officials have had to significantly reduce employee travel, suspend purchasing, reduce the number of employees, suspend college memberships in professional associations and maximize energy efficiency.
The administration believes these collective and strategic efforts will assist the college in adjusting to the FY16 mid year cuts and aid the college in preparing for deeper and possibly more substantial cuts in its FY17 budget which begins on July 1, 2016. State officials are projecting an FY17 budget deficit that could reach as high as $1.3 billion dollars.
At this week’s Western Regent’s meeting, a revision to the procedure guide for institutional layoffs/or reductions in force was presented. The procedure outlined the role of the Board of Regents as the governing body of the college, as well as the President’s and Executive Council’s responsibilities in regards to the layoff/recall of employees and the rationale for recommending Reductions in Force (RIF). The procedure also detailed the chain of command for the exercise of RIF and employee options to appeal a RIF through the Office of the President and the Board of Regents. The board voted on and approved the revised procedure.
After holding an executive session on the matter, the board reconvened in regular session to approve proposed reductions in force recommendations concerning personnel and positions. Several positions and employees were affected.
Judith Meyer is the Director of Public Information for Western Oklahoma State College