$10M needed: Wright State leaders ask departments to slash budgets

Wright State University.
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Wright State University.

Wright State University administrators have asked department heads to slash 66 percent of their remaining budgets for fiscal year 2018.

The cuts amount to a reduction of around $10 million more in expenses, WSU administrators said in an email to campus today. In the email, which was signed by president Cheryl Schrader, provost Tom Sudkamp and chief business officer Walt Branson, administrators said they have already secured “reduction commitments” totaling more than $10.5 million.”

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The Monday email was sent to campus after this news organization began asking about rumors that further budget cuts were implemented.

Administrators asked departments to slash their expenses by two-thirds two weeks ago, meaning the request was made with just over three months left in the fiscal year that ends on June 30.

“We are relying on the entire campus to spend within their remaining budgets. We have implemented a number of measures to monitor spending and will review spending closely,” the email states.

The request is the latest development in Wright State’s budget crisis that resulted from years of overspending.

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Last year, trustees slashed more than $30.8 million from Wright State’s budget and also required that the university add another $6 million to its reserve fund.

“I think the administration is trying to pull out all the stops to make sure we hit that,” said Doug Fecher, chairman of the board of trustees.

Administrators said they have asked representatives from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to visit campus to assess “this unprecedented situation.” John Carey, chancellor of the department of higher education, was on campus last month, according to a release from the university after the visit.

In February, Wright State administrators said that the university was around $6 million over budget on employee health benefits. The Monday email mentions medical claims, referring to them as “very volatile” and saying that they have increased and decreased by as much as $500,000 in a single week.

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The health expenses, along with enrollment issues and unexpected scholarship and fellowship issues are a large part of why the university has to find another $10 million in savings by June 30, Fecher said.

“We need more savings than what we projected at the beginning of the year,” Fecher said. “It’s been a difficult year.”

The WSU board of trustees finance committee is set to meet at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the first floor gallery space of the building at 2455 Presidential Drive in Fairborn. At the Wednesday meeting, the board will get more details on what exactly departments are cutting for the rest of the year, Fecher said.

“We would like to thank the campus for working together to reduce budgets. We know the sacrifices have been significant,” the email states. “This effort shows all of us how much everyone is committed to Wright State’s success.”

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