Campuswide hiring freeze follows state budget cuts

UK President Lee Todd announced in a campus-wide e-mail yesterday an immediate hiring freeze for all university staff positions with the exception of those at the hospital.

The freeze came in response to Gov. Steve Beshear’s 3 percent budget cut for state agencies and public universities through the end of the fiscal year in June. The decrease will result in a cut of about $10 million for UK.

Nothing has been decided about the 2008-09 state budget, and Todd is confident in the General Assembly’s willingness to continue to support the Top 20 Business Plan, he said in the e-mail. But cuts have to be made to respond to the current 3 percent reduction, he said.

“We were asked in a short period of time to figure out how to plug a hole in this fiscal year,” said UK spokesman Jay Blanton. UK has done that and will go to the General Assembly to make its case to get back on the top-20 plan, he said.

Todd plans to fund $5 million of the reduction from a central fund, he said in the e-mail. This money comes from “rainy day,” or reserve, funds built up from unused administration and university money, Blanton said.

The other $5 million will be cut from programs and areas across campus based on their needs, Blanton said. Provost Kumble Subbaswamy will work with each department to determine where cuts can be made, he said.

This will include postponing the next renovation phases of the Chemistry-Physics and the Biological Sciences buildings. UK will continue current construction on these buildings and honor current bids with companies, but any further additions have been postponed, Blanton said.

“Even though the budget situation is challenging, I am confident in the strength of our case for continued state support for the Top 20 Business Plan,” Todd said in the e-mail. “And I am confident in the General Assembly’s willingness to listen to us and do all they can to help us continue the momentum we have worked so hard to build.”

The hiring freeze will not include the current search for a vice president for institutional diversity or a new police chief, Blanton said, because they are considered vital to the university. Exceptions to the hiring freeze will have to be approved by the provost or the vice president for finance and administration, Todd said in the e-mail.

Staff writer Alice Haymond contributed to this report.