Funding shortfall forces NKU to cut 100 positions


Matt Sexton

The NKU Board of Regents approved the budget for the coming year, which includes cutting more than 100 staff and faculty positions. This photo is from the April 27 board meeting.

Reduced state funding coupled with increased payments to state retirement will force NKU to cut 100 faculty and staff positions.

NKU’s Board of Regents unanimously approved the budget plan Wednesday proposed by President Geoffrey Mearns. 

The plan will eliminate 37 faculty positions. Of those, 31 are confirmed and anticipated vacant positions, and six are currently filled positions. This will save the university $3.5 million.

In addition, 68 staff and management positions will be cut. Of those, 32 are vacant positions and 36 are filled positions. This will save the university $4.5 million.

In total, the $8 million in budget cuts were necessary due to reduced funding from the state of Kentucky, in addition to increased payments to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System.

“I know that the next few weeks will be difficult,” Mearns said in an email statement. “I know the decisions that we were compelled to make will impose real hardships on those who are directly affected by those decisions. And I know that all of you will feel the pain and the extra burden that we will have to bear.”

In the statement, Mearns said they used conservative enrollment projections in constructing the budget. Mearns said there are other steps the university has taken or will take to help with the financial shortfall.

“We also ended our lease of the METS Center, and we are exploring the possibility of selling some or all of the WNKU assets,” Mearns said. “We will also partner with a healthcare system to provide athletic training and sports medicine services to our student-athletes … that will reduce expenses and enhance services.”

Mearns said a salary increase was not figured into next year’s budget, but a 3 percent increase is planned if several factors are met, including enrollment and retention, as well as other cost-saving strategies.

Board Chair Nathan Smith said in the statement that the decision they had to make wasn’t an easy one, but it was a necessary one.

“This is difficult – there’s no way around it,” Smith said. “These are challenging times for higher education around the country, and especially here in Kentucky. The state continues to cut higher education funding, and we have no reason to believe Frankfort will reverse that trend anytime soon.”

The Board of Regents approved a 3 percent across-the-board increase on April 27. This was despite a recommendation from Mearns for a 4 percent tuition increase at the meeting.