Wyo4News Staff, [email protected]
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING (August 19, 2020) — Western Wyoming Community College announced to employees on August 17, that in order to maintain institutional stability and due to budget cuts for the State of Wyoming, declining enrollment, and the impact of COVID-19, the institution will move toward eliminating some positions and degree pathways.
The majority of Western’s budget is dedicated to salary and benefits, so the only meaningful way to cut expenses is a reduction in the workforce. The decision to eliminate positions rather than furloughing or temporarily cutting salaries is to implement a sustainable plan during this crisis and in the future. Western is looking to streamline its structure and to resolve areas of inefficiency with a focus on boosting enrollment.
“As a new president, this was not how I wanted to start our journey. I’m keenly aware that there are people attached to these decisions. I’ve asked our Western Family for compassion and understanding during this transition,” stated Dr. Kim Dale, President of Western.
Over the summer, two internal committees drafted two rubrics, academic and administration, to assist in determining what positions and degrees will be impacted. These rubrics were given to the Cabinet, which consists of the President, Vice Presidents, and Human Resources. Besides labor, the Cabinet will examine workflow, organizational design, academic affairs, technology, IT services, facilities, auxiliaries, spending, and contracts for inefficiencies. The Cabinet is currently working through this process and will partner with the Board of Trustees to make an official announcement in September.
“After learning of the State mandate for a 10 percent cut to Western’s funding, the Board conducted a special meeting in June. President Dale and her staff presented a strategic and data-led proposal to review how Western would sustain these ongoing budget cuts. We knew this would be difficult and are very pleased with the work that has been done to date,” stated Board President Regina Clark.
On July 13, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Mark Gordon announced statewide budget cuts of $250 million. Through the Wyoming Community College Commission, State funding for all Wyoming community colleges was cut by 10 percent. This is in addition to the 9 percent cut that Western had already budgeted for during the 20-21 academic year. It is projected that the community colleges may undergo additional State-funding cuts within the next year or two.
Western serves Sweetwater, Carbon, Lincoln, Sublette, and Uinta counties. Western has seen a 26 percent decline in its enrollment in the past 10 years. While community colleges nationwide have seen enrollment declines, Western’s decline exceeds the national and statewide averages. This translates into a loss of revenue of $4.9 million (2020 dollars). Dale visited these counties last fall and will continue to reach out to key stakeholders for strategic solutions.
Western has not had a collegewide reduction in force in 20 years. Despite these challenges, Western welcomes students to campus on Monday, August 24, for the fall semester. Additionally, two new grants are available for students who have been impacted by COVID-19 to help pay for college.
For more information on Western’s restructuring, contact Kandy Frink at [email protected].