As part of the ongoing effort to keep you informed about the fiscal situation at Winston Salem State University (WSSU), I am providing this update, which reflects the situation as it stands on the first day of fall semester classes.
In July we learned officially that as part of the budget reduction for the UNC system that the State appropriation budget for WSSU would be reduced by $10.1 million or 13.8 percent, net of funds added for enrollment growth. In anticipation of such a reduction, planning had begun as early as January when the Governor released her budget. During the period leading up to the official notification, in an effort to align expenditures with anticipated revenues, reviews of all operations were conducted. From the beginning of this process one thing was very clear, and that was that in order to reduce expenditures by the levels needed to comply with a double-digit percentage reduction, staffing levels would have to be reduced. With more than 78 cents of every dollar spent at WSSU going to support the costs of personnel, meeting our savings goal could only be achieved by reducing head-count.
Following a recent utilization study of temporary positions on campus, the decision was made to eliminate all non-seasonal temporary positions. This would be accomplished either by eliminating the position or by converting it to permanent status. Gross savings from the elimination of all temporary positions totaled approximately $1.8 million. In order to meet the ongoing needs of the University, 31 of the 45 temporary positions identified are being converted to permanent positions. The net savings after the conversions totaled approximately $.595 million. As part of this reduction, the University also severed its relationship with the employment agency that had provided many of the temporary staff. This decision accounted for $.250 million of the net savings.
Another area that has been reviewed is the use of adjunct faculty. Traditionally, these temporary, non-tenure track faculty have been used to supplement the permanent faculty, often providing valuable released time that enables the permanent faculty to conduct research, perform community service, or engage in other activities related to their faculty status. This academic year the University will use approximately 55 fewer adjunct faculty. The most immediate and obvious impact of this reduction can be seen in the increased teaching loads of some of the faculty. We also believe that the changes made in our General Education curriculum contributed to the need for fewer adjunct faculty.
In order to meet the budget reductions no stone has gone unturned, and we have looked for savings from every office within the University, including the Office of the Chancellor. For example, during last fiscal year three filled special assistant to the chancellor positions were eliminated. And effective September 1, the Office of Management and Strategic Initiatives will be closed and the work reallocated to other staff. To meet the current-year budget target a total of 116.5 full-time equivalent positions have been eliminated. Of this total, 31 were filled.
In addition to the savings derived from the elimination of temporary positions, the use of fewer adjunct faculty, and the elimination of filled and unfilled positions, an additional $2.8 million in administrative savings have been identified. The combination of these efforts will enable the University to achieve the $10.1 million reduction that the budget requires.
Given the loss of fiscal flexibility resulting particularly from the elimination of vacant positions, and the need to achieve administrative savings, the austerity measures, including the freezes that are in place on non-critical hiring, travel and conference attendance, and purchasing and other non-essential activities, will remain in place for the indefinite future. As I have said earlier, spending decisions will be guided, in large part, by the priorities identified in the Strategic Plan.
In addition to the reductions outlined above, we will implement organizational changes that are designed to either save money or create more efficient operations. In addition to the elimination of the strategic management office, for example, there have been organizational changes in the Facilities Department and in the Business Services operation. Other operational changes will follow as we try to streamline activities.
As we begin the new academic year we do so under a cloud of tremendous uncertainty about the future well-being of the University. The budget reductions discussed above, we must remember, are on top of the more than $21 million that has been lost during the previous three years, bringing total reductions to more than $31.0 million. Moreover, the current staff reductions are in addition to the 16 filled and 30 vacant positions that were eliminated two years ago. Contributing significantly to the uncertainty and anxiety are the unknowns concerning the economy of the State and what that means going forward. During the current fiscal year, for example, there are no assurances that further reductions will not be required or that budget reversions will not be needed at the end of the fiscal year, as they were at the end of last fiscal year. Yet, it is against this backdrop that we must maintain our commitment to provide our students with the best possible education. To do anything less is to short-change current students and to weaken the University for future generations We must always remember, regardless of the circumstances, that we are here to serve our students and to use whatever resources we have to support their success while on our campus and when they graduate.
In my July 7 memo concerning the budget, I stated that we were working to schedule a town hall meeting for the campus and the broader community. That session has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 30, at 6 p.m. in Dillard Auditorium of the Anderson Conference Center. The session will include a report on the budget situation and an update on the progress that has been made on the Strategic Plan and other major initiatives.
Finally, I want to thank you for all you do every day to help us fulfill our mission of developing graduates of distinction who are known for leadership and service in their professions and their communities.