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Wright State could lay off up to 120 people to save $8 million

Wright State University may lay off up to 120 people in order to regain its financial footing.

The university is considering laying off between 80 and 120 people to save between $6 million and $8 million, according to a board of trustees finance committee report. Layoffs have long been expected but officials have not said how many people could lose their jobs before now.

Wright State employs more than 3,700 faculty and staff, according to the university.

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Interim president Curtis McCray said the university is still in the process of figuring out exactly which positions will be cut but that they could be made public during a May 19 meeting.

Cuts won’t be officially adopted until the board of trustees approves its 2018 budget in June, trustees said.

“We’ll probably get a final list together that first week in May,” McCray said. “Our great hope is to be able to identify and notify these people before it’s made public.”

Wright State has to trim $25 million from its upcoming budget while also boosting the school’s reserve fund by $5 million.

The financial crisis the school is facing is the result of years of overspending, school officials have said. The university is projected to have overspent by more than $120 million over the past six years.

Trustees and the administration will try to spare faculty members from layoffs in order to preserve the university’s “core mission” of educating students, said chairman Michael Bridges.

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“Our number one goal is to get the university’s finances in balance and our primary goal right behind that is to provide an education,” Bridges said.

But, Bridges said some “difficult decisions have to be made” and that could mean some specialized academic programs, with lower enrollment, could be “candidates for elimination.” Some athletic programs could also be on the chopping block as McCray said the men’s golf team may be cut.

“The goal is still to have as minimal an impact as possible on the education of our students,” said Doug Fecher, chairman of the finance committee. “But, we still have to find these savings…we have to realign the budget now.”

Along with layoffs, the school may also leave between 30 and 50 currently vacant positions empty, according to the report. The vacant positions would save the school another $3 million to $5 million.

The university’s voluntary retirement incentive retirement program is expected to net around $6 million in savings from next year’s budget while attrition will save the university around $2 million, according to the report.

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The report details a number of other ways the school will look to save millions of dollars. Wright State’s Lake Campus and Boonshoft School of Medicine, which operate under separate budgets, are being asked to give a combined $4 million back to the university.

WSU could cut between $7 million and $10 million from the university’s operations, according to the report.

Operational cuts refers to services offered by the university, such as cell phone reimbursements and catering, Fecher said. McCray halted catering, overnight travel and phone reimbursements, among other expenses, earlier this month.

The board of trustees are scheduled to meet in executive session at 4 p.m. Thursday in the student union’s Wright Brothers Room and then in a public session at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the Berry Room of the Nutter Center. Several people have requested time to speak at the meeting and Fecher said he expects them to voice their concerns about the budget cuts.

The finance committee will meet immediately after the public session concludes, according to an agenda.

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