Kennesaw State University has released its fiscal 2021 budget plan in response to the University System of Georgia’s request for member schools to develop a plan to absorb the 14% cuts in state funding expected in coming weeks.

The university’s plan includes furloughs, hiring freezes and a reduction in events and programming. A KSU spokesperson told the MDJ that, other than what is provided in the proposal document, it’s “too soon” to provide further specifics, including how many employees could be furloughed.

The cuts will not affect summer courses.

KSU officials say the USG has required from its schools a strategic approach to proposed cuts, rather than 14% reductions across all departments.

KSU says its goal has been to avoid reductions in instructional faculty positions and any cuts that would reduce students’ access to courses needed to graduate. No faculty positions are included in the proposed hiring freezes, and staff positions held vacant during the freeze will not be permanently eliminated, the plan shows.

The document indicates that areas such as instruction, advising, registration, financial aid and other “pivotal direct student academic services,” will not be cut.

The budget cuts are a product of the COVID-19 pandemic’s significant impact on the state’s economy, which reduced year-over-year April revenues by more than $1 billion, or nearly 36%, compared to 2019. The state Department of Labor also reported Thursday that Georgia’s unemployment rate skyrocketed last month to a record high 11.9%.

KSU President Pamela Whitten and Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathy Schwaig informed their faculty and staff of the budget plan in a emailed letter Friday morning.

The university leaders said in preparing their proposal for the $23 million reduction for Kennesaw State, the focus remained to avoid any reduction that would impact a student’s ability to access courses needed to earn a degree.

“It is vital that we place our students’ educational needs above all else. As such, it is imperative to our mission to avoid any reductions for instructional faculty in this plan,” the letter reads. “These are challenging times that require extremely difficult decisions.”

The university has submitted its proposal to the university system and is awaiting approval. That approval, officials say, will be contingent upon the state’s fiscal year 2021 budget that is expected to be approved in June, when lawmakers return to the Gold Dome.

Highlights of KSU’s proposal include the following anticipated cuts:

♦ Staff position hiring freezes, $8.9 million: This is inclusive of salary and benefits savings.

♦ Furloughs: $5.5 million

♦ Operations cost and travel reductions, $4 million: Some of these reductions, for example, travel had already been partially expected, given that travel restrictions had been expected to continue through December.

♦ Other smaller programs, services, administrative positions and academic departments will be eliminated or consolidated into other university facilities, for an expected total savings of around $4.4 million.

Whitten and Schwaig closed their letter saying there are still “numerous details to address together” once the plan is approved, and related information will be shared with the campus community as it develops.

KSU’s proposed budget reduction can be found at coronavirus.kennesaw.edu/budgetplan.

Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.

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