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KSU COVID-19 budget plan, more questions than answers


In a May 22 email to employees, KSU administration announced its COVID-19 budget plan. It might be acceptable to the USG, which requested a plan from each campus for a 14% budget cut for FY 2021, but for the rest of us, the announcement raises a host of questions.

For starters, how and when was this budget plan developed? How are we supposed to take the promise of shared governance in implementing the plan seriously when there was none in its development?  We understand from colleagues that in advance of the release of the email, at least two organizational units were given 12 hours’ notice to attend Friday morning meetings related to drastic cuts and reorganization. The budget plan rollout was hasty and fueled worker anxiety. Did this budget plan come from the COVID-19 task force?  Why weren’t the people likely to be affected given any voice?

A number of other questions have to do with the language and lack of detail in the plan.  When university administrators talk about operational efficiencies, it almost always means cuts in jobs and services. All of the items listed under Operational Efficiencies in the budget plan come with exact dollar savings.  For example, the dissolution of University College (a paragraph worded so strangely that only on a second read do we realize UC is being eliminated) is said to save the university $1.1 million, but from the loss of what departments or positions? The details are missing. We need significantly more information. 

Since the USG’s announcement of recommended furlough guidelines several weeks ago, we expected to see KSU adopt them. A furlough communicates a release from work time so that the university can save personnel costs. Some staff have reported being told that at least some of their furlough days will be normal paid holidays being turned into unpaid holidays. Therefore, it appears that we will be expected to perform the same amount of work for less pay. Faculty on annual review plans can’t be expected to satisfy 100% of their obligations to teaching, scholarship, and service with less time. Whether faculty or staff, what work should we not do while furloughed?

We’ll be processing this information in upcoming meetings over the next several weeks while we continue to gather information. If you have feedback or advice to offer the union related to the KSU’ administration’s budget plan, feel free to use our chapter’s COVID-19 worker survey or email us directly: ucwga [dot] ksu [at] gmail [dot] com. We welcome your participation in developing our next round of COVID-19 related demands and actions. We’d love to see you at our weekly Wednesday night conference calls (5.15pm); email us for details if you’d like to join the call and/or the chapter as a new union member!

Update, May 28, 2020: See our memorandum to President Pamela Whitten